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CDC Changes Guidelines For Schools, Says 3 Feet Distance Is Acceptable

CDC Changes Guidelines For Schools, Says 3 Feet Distance Is Acceptable

 

The CDC announced new guidelines on Friday, stating that 3 feet of distance is acceptable within schools after nearly a year of Americans abiding by the 6-feet social distancing rule.

A recent Clinical Infectious Disease study in Massachusetts schools showed that there was no major difference between rates of COVID-19 among students who were 3 feet apart from one another or 6 feet apart from one another. The study found, “Student case rates were similar in the 242 districts with ≥3 feet versus ≥6 feet of physical distancing between students … Cases among school staff in districts with ≥3 feet versus ≥6 feet of physical distancing were also similar…”The new updates to the CDC guidelines include:

  • Revised physical distancing recommendations to reflect at least 3 feet between students in classrooms and provide clearer guidance when a greater distance (such as 6 feet) is recommended.
  • Clarified that ventilation is a component of strategies to clean and maintain healthy facilities.
  • Removed recommendation for physical barriers.
  • Clarified the role of community transmission levels in decision-making.
  • Added guidance on interventions when clusters occur.

The key points of the new rules dictate that there is proof that many K-12 schools that have adhered to and carried out “prevention strategies” have been able to welcome students back in the classroom and stay open instead of shutting down again due to outbreaks or widespread transmission of COVID-19. It added that schools should also carry out “layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing.” It also stated that testing and providing vaccinations to workers and teachers can aid in additional protection.

Some states have been continuing to teach students in the classroom for many months. The Daily Wire reports that Florida was able to reopen its schools last August with no super-spreading outbreaks:

Robert Runcie, the superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth-largest school district, echoed, “If we’ve been able to successfully open without any major outbreaks in our schools,” in a county with high infection rates, “I believe that it can be done nationwide.”

Last week, Runcie stated of the fact that health and safety protocols reputedly worked to stop schools from becoming COVID-spreader environments, “Given that reality, I would’ve opened schools earlier for face-to-face instruction but that’s Monday morning quarterbacking in hindsight. Because we know how important face-to-face instruction is for so many of our students, we know many students are not making adequate academic progress,” as NBC Miami reported.

During a White House briefing on Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said that schools still need to implement other protective measures.

“These include universal and correct use of masks, physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory etiquette, cleaning to maintain healthy facilities and diagnostic testing with rapid and efficient contact tracing in combination with isolation in quarantine and in collaboration with local health departments,” Walensky noted.

Teachers unions are reportedly not happy about the CDC’s decision. The Associated Press reports that Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the union is looking at the most recent research, “but we are concerned this change has been driven by a lack of physical space rather than the hard science on aerosol exposure and transmission.”

Earlier this week, Weingarten told The Washington Post, “They are compromising the one enduring public health missive that we’ve gotten from the beginning of this pandemic in order to squeeze more kids into schools … I think that is problematic until we have real evidence in these harder-to-open places about what the effect is.”

Many hope that this will allow additional schools to reopen and welcome back more students who need to return to the classroom.

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