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The CDC on Thursday issued new guidance on reopening schools that backtracked on prior, stricter recommendations after criticism from President Donald Trump.
Trump descried the previous recommendations as "very tough and expensive."
The new CDC guidance offers full-throated support for reopening schools.
"Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America's greatest assets — our children," the CDC said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphatically endorsed reopening America's schools in new guidance posted on its website Thursday night, backtracking from previous recommendations that were criticized by President Donald Trump earlier in July.
"Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America's greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families," the new guidance stated. The new recommendations emphasized that the "best available evidence" suggests children are unlikely to be "major drivers of the spread of the virus."
Related: 6 months of coronavirus in the USA, reviewed in 6 minutes
In early July, Trump slammed prior CDC recommendations on reopening schools as "very tough and expensive," as he simultaneously threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that don't fully reopen. Roughly two weeks later, the CDC offered the new guidance.
Reiterating his support for opening schools on Thursday, Trump said: "Children have a very strong immune system. They seem to be able to fight it off and not have a problem."
But infectious disease experts have consistently said that more research is needed to fully understand the impact of COVID-19 on children.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House's coronavirus task force, on Friday said it's "still an open question" how much children under 10 spread the illness.
In discussions on reopening schools, public health experts have also expressed concern about the potentially negative consequences for the health and well-being of teachers, other staff, and volunteers.
Though the Trump administration's messaging on coronavirus has been all over the place from the start, it's been especially jumbled in recent days.
While the president apparently believes it's safe to reopen schools this fall, Trump on Thursday announced that his GOP presidential nomination acceptance speech, which was set to take place in Jacksonville next month, had been canceled due to concerns over the virus. Florida is the epicenter of the pandemic, with cases there rising at alarming rates.
"I looked at my team and said, the timing for this event is not right ... to have a big convention is not the right time," Trump said during the coronavirus briefing on Thursday evening.
The president this week finally acknowledged that COVID-19 is a serious problem in the US, but he's continued to treat it as an issue to be handled by localities while refusing to acknowledge his own failings in addressing the US outbreak, which spiraled out of control months ago.
The US has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and fatalities in the world, with over over 4 million reported cases and nearly 145,000 reported deaths as of Friday, per Johns Hopkins.
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