CDC says 3 feet of social distancing now recommended for schools

Coronavirus Updates

FILE – In this March 18, 2021, file photo, students in teacher Christopher Duggan’s science class clean their work areas at the end of class at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Conn. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its social distancing guidelines for schools Friday, March 19, saying students can now sit 3 feet apart in classrooms. The new guidelines also remove recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

(ABC4) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its K-12 school COVID-19 guidance, making changes to its recommendations regarding physical distancing.

Updated guidance from the CDC now says that, in addition to mask-wearing, students should maintain a distance of at least three feet in classroom settings instead of six feet.

Guidance, outlined by ABC4 affiliate WFLA, includes:

  • In elementary schools, the CDC recommends all students remain at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal — regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate, substantial or high. 
  • In middle and high schools, the CDC also recommends students should be at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal and in communities where transmission is low, moderate or substantial.
  • Middle school students and high school students should be at least 6 feet apart in communities where transmission is high, if cohorting is not possible. Cohorting is when groups of students are kept together with the same peers and staff throughout the school day to reduce the risk for spread throughout the school.  This recommendation is because COVID-19 transmission dynamics are different in older students – that is, they are more likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and spread it than younger children.

The CDC does say six feet of distance should be maintained in common areas like school lobbies and when masks can’t be work, such as during lunchtime. Recommendations say teachers and other adults should maintain six feet in distance from one another and students.

The Associated Press reports the CDC has also removed recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks because there is little evidence of their effectiveness.

For more on the CDC’s guidance, visit their website.

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