not a teacher
But the goverment of the area makes a decision after the evaluations, to hide the forecast from the public, as they think that making the speculation public will cause more damage to the society – fear will spread, people will stop working.
This is "to shield" in the sense of "to protect". As you say, the government is worried that letting the community know the details of the scientists' speculations might cause some panic, so they decide to protect (shield) the public from this truth, for its own good.
"Some families like to shield their children from displays of violence by not letting them watch certain films".
"A wide-brimmed hat shielded her from the sun's harmful rays".