New social distancing guidelines for students were established on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the revised directions, students can now relax social distancing measures as they can sit 3 feet apart during classes. The previous regulation required a standard of 6-foot.
According to Kevin Quinn, director of maintenance and facilities at Mundelein High School in suburban Chicago, the three feet distance provides more flexibility to the education process. It “gives school districts greater flexibility to have more students in for a prolonged period of time.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the revised recommendations are an “evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction.”
Curiously enough, the new measure was implemented in a way thanks to acts of disobedience. According to NCN, recently, schools in some states have been disregarding the CDC guidelines, using 3 feet as their standard. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC’s community interventions task force.
While there is evidence of improved mental health and other benefits from in-person schooling, “we don’t really have the evidence that 6 feet is required in order to maintain low spread,” she said.
The new guidelines remove recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. “We don’t have a lot of evidence of their effectiveness” in preventing transmission, Massetti said.
They also advise at least 3 feet of space between desks in elementary schools, even in towns and cities where community spread is high, so long as students and teachers wear masks and take other precautions. Spacing can also be 3 feet in middle and high schools, so long as there’s not a high level of spread in the community. If there is, spacing should be at least 6 feet.
The CDC said 6 feet of distance should still be maintained in common areas, such as school lobbies, and when masks can’t be worn, such as when eating.
Also, students should continue to be spaced 6 feet apart in situations where there are a lot of people talking, cheering or singing, all of which can spread droplets containing the coronavirus. That includes chorus practice, assemblies and sports events. Additionally, the CDC said teachers and other adults should stay 6 feet from one another and from students.