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ST. LOUIS – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its COVID-19 school guidelines Friday. 

 The main message is vaccinated teachers and students don’t need masks. 

The agency said that returning to in-person learning in schools this fall is a priority and that masks should be worn indoors by all individuals ages two and older who are not fully vaccinated against coronavirus. 

The CDC recommendations encourage schools to maintain three feet of distancing among unvaccinated kids.

The agency also recommends that schools offer vaccines on-site, provide paid sick leave for employees to get vaccinated, and excuse absences for students to get vaccinated. 

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available for people ages 12 and older.  

St. Louis area school districts are looking over the new recommendations. 

“We do have all new sports guidance we implemented in our school, which essentially aligns with what the CDC has announced in terms of students that are fully vaccinated in the buildings do not have to wear masks when they’re engaged in athletic activities,” said Ph.D. Brian Mentzer, superintendent of Belleville Township High School District 201.

Many school districts say they will likely finalize their covid guidelines by the end of this month or the beginning of August. 

“In-person learning is much better than remote learning. People who are vaccinated are protected,” said Dr. Alex Garza, incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.  

“Hopefully, we can expand the age groups of people who can get vaccines.” 

The CDC said its guidelines are meant to supplement – not replace – local guidelines and policies.