A preview of the plan obtained by CNN shows the updated advice is expected to ease quarantine recommendations for those exposed to the virus and reduce social distancing by 6 feet.
The agency should also reduce the importance of regular testing for Covid-19 in schools to monitor the spread of the virus, according to sources with knowledge of the agency’s plans but not authorized to speak to reporters. Instead, he said, it may be more useful to test based on Covid-19 at the community level and whether the setting is a higher risk, such as a nursing home or prison.
The changes, which could be announced as early as this week, have been previewed to educators and public health officials. They are still under discussion and not final yet.
In a statement to CNN, the agency said: “As the science changes, the CDC has been evaluating our guidance and will update the public as it is.”
As part of the expected changes, the CDC will also soon lift a recommendation that students exposed to Covid-19 be regularly tested to remain in class. The agency recommended the strategy in December during the first wave of Omicron, called “stay tested,” to keep unvaccinated but asymptomatic children in classrooms instead of isolating them at home.
Retention tests are resource-intensive for schools, and some districts have expressed concerns about having enough money to continue, one source said.
The agency will no longer recommend maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others as a protective measure, both inside and outside of school. Instead, the new guidelines aim to help people understand which types of environments are more risky than others due to factors such as poor ventilation, population, and personal characteristics such as age and underlying health.
The CDC will also ease quarantine requirements for people who have not been vaccinated or who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 in a timely manner. Currently, the agency recommends that people who have not been vaccinated in time stay at home for at least five days after being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. Going forward, they will no longer need to stay at home, but will have to wear a mask and be tested for at least five days after exposure.
The agency is expected to say that people with Covid-19 should always self-isolate.
The agency also plans to re-emphasize the importance of establishing ventilation to help stop the spread of many respiratory diseases, not just Covid-19. He plans to encourage schools to do more to clean and freshen indoor air.
The adjustments reflect both the changing public perception of the pandemic — many Americans have stopped wearing masks or social distancing — and the high level of underlying immunity, the sources said. Screening of blood samples showed that in December, 95% of Americans were infected with Covid-19 or vaccinated, reducing the chance of becoming seriously ill or dying if reinfected.
CDC’s recommendations are not legally binding. Many cities, states and school districts will pay attention to them, but may end up following different strategies.
Masks in schools are one example.
Still, the agency’s guidance is important as a benchmark. When cities or states try to go beyond CDC recommendations, they may face resistance.