‘Unethical & illegal’: CDC warns against mandatory virus testing in K-12 schools, says parents must decide on ‘voluntary basis’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared that all coronavirus screening in public schools must be “voluntary,” warning that compulsory testing is a violation of both ethics and the law.

In a new set of guidelines for testing in K-12 schools earlier this week, the CDC noted that administrators are required to obtain consent from parents or guardians before testing students. “If a school is implementing a testing strategy, testing should be offered on a voluntary basis,” the CDC said.

It is unethical and illegal to test someone who does not want to be tested, including students whose parents or guardians do not want them to be tested.

The health agency also recommended that schools should test students if there is an “active outbreak” at the facility in question, or if the schools are located “in communities disproportionately affected or that lack access to testing.” Individuals “with symptoms for Covid-19 and close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients” should take priority.

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However, the CDC urged school administrations to wait for up to three months before retesting positive students, as data currently suggests that “some individuals test persistently positive due to residual virus material but are unlikely to be infectious.”

In some areas of the country, local school districts are scrambling to work out rules and guidelines for testing students as some regions reopen. In New York, for example, a mandate from Governor Andrew Cuomo requires that 20 percent of students at schools within “yellow zone” hotspots must receive tests. While the state offers a consent form parents must sign before their child is screened, it is unclear how the governor’s mandate could be implemented should parents refuse to cooperate.

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