In-person learning now considered ‘high risk’ by CDC

THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL for Disease Control and Prevention quietly removed controversial guidelines from its website promoting in-person learning in schools, and instead is now listing it as “high risk.”

The disputed guidance was composed of documents written by political appointees outside of the agency. One of the documents stated that children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults and that children are unlikely to be major spreaders of the virus, according to The Hill. The CDC removed the guidance from its website without public announcement some time in late October.

“Some of the prior content was outdated and as new scientific information has emerged the site has been updated to reflect current knowledge about COVID-19 and schools,” a spokesperson told the news outlet.

Now the website says “the body of evidence is growing that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and contrary to early reports might play a role in transmission,” and lists in-person learning as high risk.

The news comes just as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association released a report this week that found that the coronavirus is infecting children now more than ever. As of November 12, over 1 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Over the two-weeks period between October 29 and November 12 there was a 22 percent increase in child COVID-19 cases, or 185,829 new cases, nationwide. In Massachusetts, the total is 15,562 cases among children as of November 12, or 9.4 percent of total cases.

State leaders, who have been pushing for a return to in-person learning, are maintaining their position. At a Wednesday press conference, Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said the state is relying on medical expertise in encouraging school reopenings, but acknowledged the shifts in CDC guidance. “There’s been some back and forth on what they put out,” he said.

Gov. Charlie Baker in early November released new metrics that downgraded the risk of COVID-19 in most communities and issued new guidance suggesting in-person instruction is safe even in hot-spot areas. At the time, 23 percent of school districts were fully remote, but he urged them to reopen in-person, due to the fact that there had been no outbreaks of COVID-19 in public schools so far.

The state is focusing on identifying COVID-19 infections in schools as they remain open in-person before outbreaks happen. This week, state officials said they are rolling out a rapid testing program in early December for 134 school districts for students who show symptoms of the virus. The role the federal Abbott BinaxNOW testing program will play has been debated among school officials — some say the state needs to go further to conduct weekly surveillance testing of asymptomatic students and staff.   

Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, and Dr. Mary Beth Miotto, vice president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, agreed reopening in-person is not a one-size-fits all approach on this week’s Codcast. Koocher voiced concern about the rapid increase the state is seeing in cases. 

“It looks like we could be back to where we were in May and June, and that’s a bit frightening. And I think that even changes the discussion from one we would have had last Friday,” Koocher said. 

Miotto backed Baker the day the new guidance was issued, saying it’s safe to reopen schools.




The horrific death of a Fall River boy puts the Department of Children and Families in the spotlight again.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack punts on the I-90 Allston interchange project.

A new statewide poll finds parents are frustrated with how the school year is going so far, particularly with hybrid learning models.

Officials from the Baker administration tell state lawmakers they are crafting guidelines for a home confinement program for prison inmates, but are giving themselves 60 days to do it.

The Senate passes its own abortion budget amendment, which is similar but not identical to an amendment passed by the House last week during its budget deliberations.

A new study indicates gas prices could rise higher than forecast under the regional transportation climate initiative.

The state is rolling out rapid COVID-19 testing in 134 school districts.

Amid the pandemic, health care visits still haven’t rebounded.




Haverhill officials say many residents infected with COVID-19 are not being honest with contact tracers, making it hard to track who they have been in contact with. (Eagle-Tribune)

New Bedford is  considering reopening COVID recovery centers during a second surge of cases. (Standard-Times)


New state data show the most COVID-19 transmission occurs through household spread, leading to renewed concerns over Thanksgiving gatherings. (The Salem News)

A New York Times analysis says states that imposed the fewest coronavirus restrictions are now experiencing the largest surge in cases. 

Coronavirus restrictions are cancelling the traditional Thanksgiving dinners that many organizations host for needy individuals. (MassLive)

Massachusetts sees an increase in opioid overdose deaths. (Patriot Ledger) 


Rep. Katherine Clark won a Democratic caucus contest for assistant speaker, making her the fourth-highest ranking Democratic in the House. (Boston Globe)

John Walsh, the veteran Massachusetts campaign strategist who led Sen. Ed Markey’s successful primary win over challenger Joe Kennedy, will head to Washington to serve as chief of staff in Markey’s Senate office. (Boston Globe)


More than $135 million in advertising has already been booked for Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections being held on January 5. (New York Times) Democratic campaign operative Madalin Sammons has some pointed advice for out-of-state Dems eager to head to Georgia to work on the two races: stay home. (Washington Post


With public research funding shrinking, UMass Amherst is signing more research contracts with private companies that have different goals. Most of the contracts, released via public records requests, were heavily redacted. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Amid rising caseloads in Methuen, parents are complaining about rumors and misinformation about the school district’s plans, while teachers say they are afraid to speak up. (Eagle-Tribune)

Some colleges are closing their campuses early for Thanksgiving due to rising virus cases. (Telegram & Gazette)

Alberto Vázquez Matos’s first four months as receiver of the Holyoke public schools were anything but typical. (MassLive)

Alexandra Davila-Oliver will be the new chairperson of the Boston School Committee, replacing Michael Loconto who resigned after being heard on a “hot mic” mocking Asian names during a hearing. (Boston Herald

The trustee of the Adams Temple and School Fund, the trust created in the will of President John Adams, is suing in the state’s highest court for the right to sell the 150-year-old Adams Academy building in Quincy to benefit The Woodward School for girls. (Patriot Ledger)


USA Today delves into the history of the first Thanksgiving, and sheds light on some common misconceptions.


A lawyer for the State Ethics Commission argues at a public hearing that Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early and his top assistant tried to scrub salacious comments from the arrest report of a judge’s daughter before it became a public record. (Telegram & Gazette)

Kimberly Budd was unanimously approved by the Governor’s Council to serve as chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. (Boston Globe)


Linda Pizzuti Henry is named chief executive of Boston Globe Media Partners, solidifying the direct oversight she and her husband, John Henry, will have over the Boston Globe and other media enterprises they own. (Boston Globe)

Meet the Author