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Can schools reopen safely this fall?
04:27 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is delaying the release of new reference documents on safely reopening schools, a spokesperson confirmed to CNN Thursday night.

The CDC was expected to release the information by the end of this week, but the spokesperson told CNN: “They’re not ready to come out this week.”

The spokesperson said he doesn’t have a “clear picture at this point” on when the agency might release the documents but indicated the information would “likely” be available by the end of the month.

The CDC said last week it was releasing new documents on how to safely reopen schools this fall after President Donald Trump complained that the agency’s current guidance was “very tough” and “expensive.” Vice President Mike Pence described the additional information as a “new set of tools,” five different documents that would clarify the existing guidelines.

Trump, in recent weeks, has repeatedly called for schools to reopen, even as the coronavirus pandemic surges across parts of the country. He has also slammed the CDC’s existing guidelines, which include keeping school desks 6 feet apart, requiring masks, closing communal areas, such as cafeterias and playgrounds, and installing physical barriers, such as sneeze guards.

The agency’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, emphasized in a briefing by the White House coronavirus task force last Wednesday that the protocols should not be used as an excuse to keep schools closed.

“Remember, it’s guidance, it’s not requirements, and its purpose is to facilitate the reopening and keeping open the schools in this country,” Redfield said.

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However, by the following day, Redfield said while the CDC was not changing its reopening guidelines, it would offer additional documents.

“Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities in trying to open K-through-12s,” Redfield said. “It’s not a revision of the guidelines; it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance we put forward.”

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other public health officials have warned that the country has to control the pandemic before children, teachers and staff can safely return to school.

CNN’s Kristin Holmes and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.