Delta variant stress tests back-to-school plans

A Washington Post survey of the 20 largest school districts found that few are offering robust coronavirus screening amid vague guidelines and a surge of cases that few anticipated.

As more than 55 million children and teens pour back into classrooms this fall, a real-life experiment is taking place: Can schools stay open safely amid the aggressive spread of the delta variant?

President Biden vowed to do everything in his power to get as many students as possible back in school. But that promise is being tested by the highly transmissible variant, which already has infected more kids in the opening weeks of some schools than all of last year, and forced nearly 1,700 temporary school closures, according to Burbio, a data firm that tracks school reopenings.

The Biden administration crafted its guidance for schools before the delta variant began ripping through the country this summer, upending months of progress. Senior administration officials said they are confident schools that follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can remain open safely, even with the spread of delta. But a quarter of the nation’s 200 largest school districts are ignoring the agency’s number one recommendation to mandate face masks, according to Burbio. Even some compliant districts are struggling to implement what they say are vague guidelines on testing and quarantining — and many are not rigorously adhering to the federal recommendations.



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