The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made an announcement Friday that will impact schools across the country.
The CDC now said the science supports reducing the minimum recommended space between students as long as everyone is wearing a well-fitting mask.
It’s a shift that will make it easier to reopen many schools or to switch from hybrid to full days in the classroom.
Under the new guidelines, students in elementary school can now sit three feet apart instead of the previously recommended six feet -- as long as everyone is wearing a mask.
“These recommendations are specific to students in classrooms with universal mask wearing,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Middle and high school students can also move to three feet apart with masks as long as cases in the community are low, moderate or substantial, but not high.
The changes come after the results of four school studies -- from Massachusetts, Utah, Missouri and Florida -- found the risk of transmission would be similar at three feet if everyone wore masks.
However, six feet of distance is still recommended in several situations, including:
- Between all adults, or adults and students.
- Whenever masks will be removed, such as eating.
- In common areas, like auditoriums.
- During activities like singing, band, exercising or playing sports.
A new @CDCMMWR finds K-12 schools using multiple prevention strategies can limit spread of #COVID19. Of 102 contacts tested after exposures to students & faculty with COVID-19, two got positive results likely due to in-person school spread. More: https://t.co/eLyBxnJvJx. pic.twitter.com/w3lHKrO3fu— CDC (@CDCgov) March 19, 2021
The new guidelines will help some schools get back to face-to-face learning, especially where population and space is an issue.
We have seen Districts with a variety of COVID mitigation strategies. Detroit Public Schools Community District has the most stringent with temperature checks at the door, smaller classes and distancing and Farmington Schools has partitions to keep students separated.
Kenneth Gutman is the superintendent of Walled Lake Consolidated Schools and the Vice President of the K-12 Alliance which represents more than half a million students and teachers in the Southeastern Michigan area. He said he needs more parents to take the pandemic seriously or none of the new guidelines will work long-term.
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