Medical expert, parents share input on COVID-19 guidelines during upcoming school year

HARMONY, Pa. — As parents begin their back-to-school shopping, one thing they want to know is whether masks will be on the list. New CDC COVID-19 guidelines coming out this week may have that answer.

“These are expected changes because where we are in the pandemic is very different than where we were in 2020 or 2021,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease doctor with UPMC.

The CDC plans to update recommendations that would remove 6 feet of social distancing, regular screening tests, and eliminate exposure isolation — instead, exposed persons would mask and retest on day five.

“We are excited for some of those restrictions to be lifted, and for life to get back to normal again,” said mom Alysha Starr, a parent of two Seneca Valley students.

Back to normal or as close as possible is what Kaden Kyes wants. Kaden will start junior high school next year in the Seneca Valley School District.

“There were only two people at a table, and you’d have to sit one person on this side and the other person on that side,” said Kyes.

Kaden said the last two years were tough with masking, distancing, and even virtual learning — and his mom says the new guidelines will help give him a piece of childhood back.

“We have a population that has full access to vaccines, antivirals, home tests, and a lot of immunity in the population,” Adalja said.

Mom and teacher Ashley Reed said she is enrolling her three-year-old son in day care this year and plans to get him, and her younger son vaccinated.

“They’re going to both get vaccinated next week so hopefully that will help us with going back to school,” Reed said.

In her classroom, Reed said the new guidelines will help the school look like a school, again.

“More small group work, more partner work, sitting together on the carpet,” Reed said.

CDC guidelines are recommendations. The final say will come from either local governments or individual school districts.

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