NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined new guidelines on how K-12 schools can reopen safely.

It comes as many students in the Tri-State Area have not physically been in a classroom in nearly a year.

From five days of in-person learning to fully remote, it’s been a mixed bag for students across the area, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.

Now, there’s some guidance from the CDC on how to safely reopen schools based on COVID infection rates in different communities.

“The CDC is not mandating that schools reopen. These recommendations simply provide schools a long-needed roadmap,” said CDC director Rochelle P. Walensky.


Blue and yellow zones with low to moderate transmission are recommended for full in-person instruction.

In orange zones with substantial transmission, middle and high schools move to hybrid learning.

In red zones, like many in our area, with high transmission rates, elementary students are recommended for hybrid learning with middle and high schools going fully remote.

“In-person learning in schools has not been associated with substantial community transmission,” Walensky said.

Schools are urged to prioritize wearing masks and physical distancing, along with handwashing, cleaning of the facility and contact tracing with isolation and quarantine.

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Improving ventilation and COVID testing are helpful but not central to the plan. Neither is vaccinating teachers.

“The science has demonstrated that schools can be reopened safely prior to all teachers being vaccinated,” Walensky said.

The plan closely resembles what’s already being done in New York City public schools.

New York City schools released the following statement regarding the new guidelines:

“New York City’s school opening plan remains the gold standard and we’re proud many of our protections are now included as national CDC guidance. With a 0.55 positivity rate from weekly testing, we have successfully opened our Elementary and District 75 schools, and we look forward to welcoming our Middle School students later this month.”

Still, some parents are not convinced and will stick to remote learning.

RELATED STORY — NYC Middle School Teachers Concerned COVID Cases Will Spike After In-Person Learning Resumes

“I don’t know what they could possibly tell me to send my daughter back to school,” Brooklyn resident Atiba Cobbler said.

“We want to make sure that everyone’s safe, and it feels safer at home right now,” Brooklyn resident Lashawn Doyle said.

New York City’s department of education sees the CDC’s guidelines as validation, highlighting the weekly infection rate inside schools is less than 1%.

To see more about the CDC’s reopening guidance, visit

Aundrea Cline-Thomas