CDC Says Distancing of 3 Feet for Kids is Sufficient

March 19, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp
FILE - In this March 18, 2021, file photo, pre-kindergarten students work on their school work at West Orange Elementary School in Orange, Calif. 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/Jae C. Hong)

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday that it has revised its social distancing guidelines for schools, further clearing the way for schools to reopen for full-time, in-person instruction. 

The agency now says students should keep a distance of 3 feet instead of the 6 feet it had previously recommended. It still suggests maintaining 6 feet between adults and kids, when masks are off, and in large, crowded areas such as auditoriums. 

Importantly, the 6 feet guideline was interpreted by groups such as the American Pediatric Association (APA) as meaning that schools could only accommodate a limited number of students, forcing most schools to adopt hybrid scheduling.

According to reports from the CDC going back to November, these schedules present challenges to the physical and mental well-being of students. 

As such, national groups have advocated for reopening in-person schooling as soon as it is reasonable to do so in order to mitigate the negative impacts of school closures on kids. And even teacher-focused groups like the American Federation of Teachers, say that the goal is to get back to in-person instruction as quickly as it is safe to do. 

This latest announcement brings the CDC’s recommendation closer to the World Health Organization’s recommendation which promotes physical distancing for kids of 1 meter (about 3.28 feet).

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