School Distancing Guidance May be Changed

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THURSDAY, March 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Guidance encouraging U.S. schools to keep students and staff six feet apart is being revisited, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky said there’s now new evidence that three feet of distance may be adequate, the Washington Post reported.

“As soon as our guidance came out, it became very clear that six feet was among the things that was keeping schools closed,” Walensky told the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “And in that context, science evolves.”

Last month, the CDC issued guidelines for reopening schools, saying in-person schooling can be safe with measures including mandatory masks and distancing.

But when six feet of distance between people is required, it is difficult to reopen with all students present at the same time. Ironically, the CDC was encouraging schools to remain partially shut at the same time Biden was encouraging them to fully open, the Post reported.

The CDC guidance offered flexibility when infection rates in the community are low, saying six feet of distance should be maintained “to the greatest extent possible.” But some school officials say they are not sure what that means.

The recommendation pushed some districts to pull back on plans to fully reopen, and some experts criticized the rules as being too strict, the Post said.

But President Biden has made reopening schools a top priority, saying he wants most K-8 schools open five days a week by the end of April, the Post reported.

On Wednesday, the Education Department said it also would distribute $122 billion to public K-12 schools by the end of April to help them reopen. The Department of Health and Human Services said $10 billion would be distributed for school-based COVID-19 testing by early April.


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