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VERIFY: Viral post on 'new CDC guidelines' oversimplifies real information

The post claims to show 'new CDC guidelines' for schools trying to reopen. The VERIFY team found they’re accurate, but leave out the full information.

A viral post online claims to be new guidelines for going back to schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s talk of canceling all field trips, installing sneeze barriers and only bringing lunch from home.

In total, the post lists 14 guidelines and viewers wanted VERIFY to find out if they were true. The team used the CDC's “Considerations for Schools” webpage to answer that question.

Credit: VERIFY


Does the viral “new CDC guidelines for reopening schools” post actually show real recommendations from the federal government?


The viral post shows some but not all of the guidelines the CDC updated on Tuesday, May 19.

It does oversimplify a few of the guidelines though. And it’s important to note that the CDC published this to assist schools making plans. It is not any sort of regulation, requirement or mandate.


The CDC’s official “Considerations for Schools” page is a long write up meant to offer options to state and local officials who are working to reopen. 

It actually explicitly states that “these considerations are meant to supplement -- not replace -- any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.” Also adding that “implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs for each community.”

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The CDC page does have the specific guidelines mentioned in the viral post, but almost all of them were written more in-depth and with added context. 

For instance, the viral post says, “Only pre-packages of boxes or bags of food instead of cafeteria food; kids eat in classrooms.”

But the CDC gives more situational advice and doesn’t say cafeteria food should be avoided outright.

Credit: CDC

That may seem like a minor difference, but if someone only read the viral post, they might think the CDC gave more definitive guidelines regarding lunches than they actually did. 

Anyone who has questions about the CDC’s real guidelines, and who they recommend them to, should read through the full page themselves. 

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Credit: VERIFY

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