The CDC recommends schools postpone all social extracurricular activities during this COVID surge, from football to band.

Only a few weeks ago, the CDC altered their recommendation about isolation after Covid from 10 days to 5, although they cautioned recoverees to continue to avoid crowded places if possible.

Now, they’ve released another guidance. The CDC recommends that schools “cancel or hold high-risk sports and extra-curricular activities virtually” during surges like the current omicron surge. They gave football and wrestling – both contact sports – as examples, along with known high-risk activities such as band, choir, and P.E.

“High-risk extracurricular activities are those in which increased exhalation occurs, such as activities that involve singing, shouting, band, or exercise, especially when conducted indoors,” reads the guidance.

The two guidances seem conflicting – one taking the disease less seriously, the other more seriously. But together, they do make sense. Generally safer practices reduce the increased risk of the shorter isolation time, allowing schools to remain in person, businesses to remain open despite people falling ill.

The guidance to schools is not binding, and education experts call it ‘unrealistic.’ Extra-curricular activities are an important part of school, especially after a year without them.

“As schools are making decisions about having choir and band and wrestling, it’s about making sure our kids are healthy in every way. I think everyone’s doing their best to take care of the whole child,” said Paul Imhoff, president of the School Superintendents Association and superintendent to a school in Ohio. He called these activities “important to students’ mental health.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defends the guidance, saying that the CDC recommends prioritizing “academics over athletics because of the increased risks involved in some extracurricular sports.” Her point is that schools which see high infection rates frequently close or go back to online learning. Reducing risky activities reduces the odds of that having to happen.

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