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CDC unveils new roadmap for reopening schools, keeping children safe during COVID-19 pandemic

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With the nation's daily coronavirus case count down and with more vaccines secured, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking toward a step-by-step process to reopening schools. They have unveiled a new roadmap showing how it can be done. Michael George reports.

Video Transcript

- Well, President Biden says more vaccine is on the way as mass distribution sites such as Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles are shut down this weekend due to lack of supply. On Friday in the Oval Office, Mr. Biden met with a bipartisan group of governors and mayors who have been pleading for more doses. The nation's daily coronavirus case count is down 41% over the past few weeks, and the number of fully vaccinated Americans now tops 12 million.

It's helping the Centers for Disease Control make the case that schools can be reopened safely. They have unveiled a new road map showing how it can be done. Michael George is outside a public school here in New York with all the details. Michael, good morning.

MICHAEL GEORGE: Michelle, good morning. How much success we'll have reopening schools comes down to safety. The CDC issued guidelines on what schools are safe to reopen and what age group of students can return to the classroom. But like much of the pandemic response, expect data and science to drive how, when, and if a child can attend school.

- Have you been tested before?

MICHAEL GEORGE: For starters, the CDC wants children tested repeatedly and widely across the country, as they're doing in this prototype process outside a San Diego school.

- Have you been tested before?

MICHAEL GEORGE: To safely keep children in school, the CDC also has new color-coded guidelines. Blue zones have low transmission, and schools are open for full in-person learning. Yellow is moderate transmission, but those schools can also stay open. Orange means substantial transmission, and schools should switch to hybrid learning and reduce attendance. And red means middle and high schools should switch to virtual learning if there's no regular testing.

GAVIN NEWSOM: We need to get our schools reopened in the state of California to our youngest cohorts. We can do that safely.

MICHAEL GEORGE: Governors are under pressure to get more schools open. Only 28% of kids have attended school full time, a Harvard survey reported in January.

TIM WALZ: The Biden administration has set a goal of 51% of our kids back in school in the first 100 days.

- So Minnesota's Governor, Tim Walz, went to school Friday seeking directions from educators to up the numbers. But safety concerns have been raised by teachers, and some have made getting a vaccine a prerequisite.

- Our preference is to have our staff vaccinated.

MICHAEL GEORGE: CDC's new guidelines do not mandate vaccinations for teachers, who could get caught up in a quagmire of continued shortages. Los Angeles's Dodgers Stadium, for one, shut down when doses ran out. And so far, nearly 50 million doses have been administered, roughly 1.6 million a day. But to get to herd immunity by the end of the summer, CBS News found that number would have to increase to at least 2 million shots a day.

- We're getting 5,000, approximately 5,000 a week. Each week, we ask for 50,000.

MICHAEL GEORGE: And another safety precaution being looked at-- ventilation. Schools are being advised to keep their doors and windows open if the weather allows for it and upgrade their ventilation systems. Jeff.

- Michael, thank you very much.