Schools can safely seat students three feet apart in classrooms, rather than six feet, says new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday. Children must still wear masks, however.
Don’t get too excited, though. The six-foot-distancing rule for sporting events, assemblies, lunch, or chorus remains in place.
Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC’s community interventions task force says that while there is evidence of 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.”
In addition to the new 3-foot spacing, the CDC no longer recommends barriers between desks. “We don’t have a lot of evidence of their effectiveness,” said Massetti.
The CDC said 6 feet 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 be kept 6 feet apart in situations where there are a lot of people talking, cheering or singing, all of which can expel droplets containing the coronavirus. That includes chorus practice, assemblies and sports events.
Teachers and other adults should continue to stay 6 feet from one another and from students, the CDC said.
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.”
“Safe in-person instruction gives our kids access to critical social and mental health services that prepare them for the future, in addition to the education they need to succeed,” she said in a statement.
The CDC advised keeping children six feet apart last year. A recent study from Massachusetts found no significant difference between infection rates of students and staff members between schools using the 3-foot standard and those using the 6-foot standard. Well, aren’t we glad it only took about a year to figure that out.
Matt Margolis is the author of Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter, Gab, Facebook, MeWe, Heroes, Rumble, and CloutHub.