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Sens. Hassan, Kaine call for release of full CDC reopening guidelines

By AP | May 16, 2020

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan

WASHINGTON –  U.S. Send. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) – both members of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee – are calling on the White House Coronavirus Task Force to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to release full reopening guidelines.

The Senators’ letter to Vice President Mike Pence comes after reports that the White House shelved detailed reopening guidelines. The White House instead released an abbreviated document that does not include all the information that states and local communities need.

“States and communities are working on plans to reopen businesses, schools, and other programs and services; they need to make these plans based on scientific evidence to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19,” wrote Senators Hassan and Kaine. “The newly released CDC guidance provides only high level guidance, at a time that local decision makers need detailed, step-by-step guidelines about how to safely reopen in phases. The Task Force must prioritize public health and safety, and guidance needs to be based on science and evidence — not politics or ideology.”

The Senators raised the importance of guidance for schools, child care programs, and day camps in particular. “The newly released guidance to re-open child care programs and schools falls far short of what is needed for states and communities to be able to put in place thoughtful plans to reopen that will best serve their students and educators,” wrote the Senators.

The Senators are also requesting answers on why the reported original guidance was rejected by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Dear Mr. Vice President:

“wordsection1″>We write to express our concern with the newly released reopening guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the White House had previously delayed. The newly released guidance is far less detailed than the original document that the White House reportedly blocked the release of, the Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework, which included detailed health and safety measures that child care programs, schools, restaurants, and other places should adopt in order to safely resume operation. We urge the White House Coronavirus Task Force (“Task Force”) to work with CDC Director Redfield to release additional detailed guidelines – more in line with the original version of the Guidance – to provide states and communities across the country with the public health, science-driven guidelines that they need to safely reopen.

States and communities are working on plans to reopen businesses, schools, and other programs and services; they need to make these plans based on scientific evidence to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. The newly released CDC guidance provides only high level guidance, at a time that local decision makers need detailed, step-by-step guidelines about how to safely reopen in phases. The Task Force must prioritize public health and safety, and guidance needs to be based on science and evidence — not politics or ideology.

We believe that having detailed, science-based guidance is important for each of the six categories, but particularly for schools, child care programs, and day camps. These programs face unique challenges because of the difficulties in enforcing social distancing and the high rates of asymptomatic cases. But the reopening of child care, schools, and day camps are essential components to reopening our economy. In addition to the current economic impact, school closures are exacerbating achievement gaps and contributing to significant learning loss among many students. Plans to reopen schools must work to address those educational inequities while also considering first and foremost the health and safety of both our students and educators. The newly released guidance to re-open child care programs and schools falls far short of what is needed for states and communities to be able to put in place thoughtful plans to reopen that will best serve their students and educators.

In addition to requesting you quickly release additional, step-by-step reopening CDC guidelines for child care programs, schools, day camps, and other entities, we ask that you please respond to us in writing, to describe why the original guidance was rejected by the Task Force and replaced by less-detailed guidance, and provide specific information about which portions of the initial guidance were seen as problematic.

We appreciate your attention to this important matter.