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CDC tool helps parents weigh risks of returning kids to school amid coronavirus pandemic

It's a tough and unprecedented decision for any guardian at this time, deciding if it's safe for students to return to the classroom despite the virus risk.

WASHINGTON — The decision to return children to school has been a contentious one with state, local and federal levels of government seemingly unsure, and in many cases, in disagreement. 

Back-to-school is fast approaching and the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is still a major concern. 

An informational tool to try and help the parents and guardians of students weigh their options and prepare to take the safest step forward possible has been released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC says expect class sizes to be smaller and the format of teaching to change. 

However, there are options for families. 

Expect to see many students in virtual learning if there is wariness about in-person study. And many suggest a hybrid of both, so there is at least a mitigation of the risk of coronavirus exposure as students would be going to in-person instruction fewer days per week. 

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The CDC says parents will need to assess if their child is at increased risk of severe illness. The federal agency warns that there are more cases of COVID-19 among children with intellectual and developmental disabilities than those without. The parents of children with certain underlying medical issues also need to seriously weigh the risks of in-person learning where COVID-19 exposure can be higher.

Parents must review a school's plan to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. The CDC says schools must promote behaviors that reduce the spread, like social distancing. 

Cleaning and disinfecting need to be a top priority for schools. They should also be staggering schedules and keeping students in small groups, the agency says. And schools must be prepared in the event that someone gets sick.

The CDC is offering their "Back to School Decision Making Tool" as a downloadable PDF so that parents can be better informed to make a decision that best works for them.