CDC says schools can move students closer and still be safe from COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced the easing of the rules involving the spacing between students in classroom settings.

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The CDC has changed its physical distancing guidelines for schools from 6 to 3 feet, CNN reported.

The spacing regulation will apply to students only, staff and teachers must still stay 6-feet away, NBC News reported.

Health officials used a recently published study that showed that there was “no significant difference” in COVID-19 rates in public schools that abided by a 3-foot spacing than those that had a 6-foot spacing.

The study was published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke about the guidance changes during a hearing Thursday in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, CNN reported.

The CDC now recommends that students at elementary schools be at least 3 feet apart in classrooms if mask use is universal, no matter the rate of community transmission.

For middle and high school students, the community transmission rates are low moderate or substantial. When areas cross into the high zone, students in middle and high school classes should still be spaced 6 feet apart when they are not using a cohort model. The cohort model is when students are together in the same group throughout the day.

In activities like lunch, sports, band and choir, should be done outside or in large spaces that are well-ventilated, NBC News reported.

When news leaked about the change, the Massachusetts Teachers Association said that closer seated students will increase the risk of transmission, The Associated Press reported earlier this week. It also goes against contracts already in play that require a 6-foot separation.

“They can’t just throw 6 feet out the window. They can’t throw away what has been agreed upon,” said Merrie Najimy, president of the union told the AP. “If they can’t make it work, then they’re going to have to come to a new agreement.”

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