The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released new social distance guidelines for schools recently. This revised guidance on social distancing in schools reflects the new science-backed evidence on students’ physical distance inside the classroom.
New Social Distance Guidelines For Schools:
While the recommendation of 6-ft physical distancing still applies in common areas of the schools, the new K-12 school guidance and social distancing updates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now require a minimum of 3 feet distance between students. However, the CDC’s new classroom physical distance recommendation only applies with universal masking.
The new, updated operational strategy says:
- In elementary schools, all students must remain at least 3 feet apart in classrooms with universal masking regardless of low, moderate, or high community transmission risks.
- In the middle and high schools, the recommended physical distance in classrooms is also 3 feet between students with universal masking. This guideline applies to a low and medium level of community transmission. However, middle and high school students should be at least 6 feet apart in communities where the transmission rate is high.
The CDC continues to recommend a minimum of 6 feet of distance:
- In all common areas in schools, including cafeteria, lobbies, and auditoriums
- Between adults and students while inside and outside of the school building
- While eating because masks can’t be worn
- While performing activities such as singing, band practice, sports, and exercise
- Across all community settings outside of the school
Schools are advised to cohort if possible. Grouping students, peers, and staff minimizes the risk of COVID-19 transmission up to a certain extent. This recommendation is ideal for older students who are more likely to be exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 because of a higher exposure level. This new guidance published on Friday will aim to curb the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
CDC’s new guidelines and recommendations will provide an evidence-based roadmap to help many schools to reopen successfully. In-person instruction is critical for kids and helps with social interaction and mental education requirements.
“CDC will keep introducing new science-backed guidance as additional evidence emerges,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky.
These newest updates and recommendations are specific to the grade levels and students in classrooms with universal mask-wearing.
Vaccination in Schools:
Vaccines are an essential step to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the new nationwide vaccine drive, aiming to reopen K–12 schools successfully, President Biden has directed all states to prioritize vaccination of staff and K–12 teachers and childcare workers. The CDC is taking a leading role in prioritizing vaccination in schools through its Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, featuring over 9,000 participating pharmacies nationwide.
How Can We Help?
Given the crucial nature of the education industry, maintaining recommended safety practices within the school premises and classrooms to keep both teachers and students safe is vital. Hand sanitation and hygiene practices, social distancing, and universal masking must be followed in all school settings.
As responsible citizens, we should work together with both school leaders and community members and act as needed to help schools safely operate and offer in-person learning.
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