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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains its school reopening guidelines in graphic form.
Scott Steepleton, Editor
8:40 am PST February 16, 2021

Days after the CDC released guidelines for a safe return to schools, a reopening agreement for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is in front of its teachers union awaiting approval.

The pact requires Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association teachers and staff to have two weeks access to vaccines before students return to campus.

Under federal guidelines released on Feb. 12, teacher vaccination is a strategy for reopening, not a requirement.

The tentative agreement announced today comes after “extended negotiating sessions” last week. Even if ratified quickly, district officials say school for the rest of the year will be under the distance learning plus model approved in December.

Details of those plans will be released to families by principals.

A main element of the reopening agreement is the vaccine access for teachers and staff.

Another involves when students return. has two main elements. For elementary students, that would be once the county records COVID-19 infection levels of 25 per 100,000 people or fewer for five consecutive days.

Secondary students would return when the infection level drops to 7/100,000.

In the latest data released Monday, the county reported 28.6 new cases per 100,000 people.

The CDC guidelines feature five key strategies: masks, distancing, washing hands, clean facilities and contact tracing.

Critics say the guidelines, released at the eleventh hour of a three-day weekend, close more schools than they open because the agency’s new color-coded system places most areas in the most restrictive red tier. In that tier, sports and extracurricular activities are virtual only. Also, middle and high schools are in virtual only instruction “unless they can strictly implement all mitigation strategies, and have few cases.”

Schools that are already open for in-person instruction can remain open, but only if they strictly implement mitigation strategies and have few cases.