CDC Recommends Schools Cancel High-Risk Sports & Activities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is facing criticism after suggesting schools should cancel sports and extracurricular activities – including football, wrestling, choir, and band – due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The CDC released its updated guidance for COVID-19 prevention in schools on January 13th, along with a map that shows 99% of US counties are at high-risk for transmission of the virus.

cdcAccording to CNN, Dr. Otis Brawley, a CDC advisor, said, “You’ve got nerds — literally science nerds — who are writing these things.”

According to a federal health official who spoke with CNN, the CDC should consult with its own communications specialists before issuing guidance, to see if it’s practical for its recommendations to be followed.

“There simply is not a seat at the table for communicators when it comes to actually developing guidance,” the official said, saying communication specialists should “take into account whether the guidance that’s being developed is truly practical.”

Brawley said the pandemic posed an unusual challenge when issuing guidance, saying that, when he was with the American Cancer Society, when we sat down to write lung cancer guidelines, it took a group of 14 people almost a year to come up with the wording. And then we tested the wording on focus groups, working with doctors and nurses and lay people to try to figure out if we were communicating effectively. The CDC doesn’t have time to do that.”

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CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement, the agency “prioritized academics over athletics because of the increased risks involved in some extracurricular sports.  When followed, our school guidance has been incredibly effective.  In the fall, 99 percent of schools were able to remain open during the intense delta wave of COVID.”

Paul Imhoff, the president of the School Superintendents Association, said activities such as sports, band, and choir are “important to students’ mental health.”