Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

CDC cuts distance guidelines for students from 6 feet to 3

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released updated guidance for schools, saying students who are wearing masks can remain three feet apart in classrooms rather than six feet as previously recommended.

The CDC's updated guidance recommends that elementary school students remain at least three feet apart from one another in classrooms while continuing to practice universal mask use. For middle and high school students, the CDC also says that they should remain at least three feet apart. In areas where COVID-19 transmission is high, however, the CDC says middle and high school students should stay six feet apart; this is unless cohorting, which involves groups of students being kept together throughout the day, isn't possible.

Teachers and adult faculty are still recommended to maintain six feet of distance under the new guidelines, and the CDC says students should maintain six feet of distance when they can't wear masks and during activities such as band and sports, NBC News reports.

The change from the CDC "lays the groundwork for districts to reopen full-time for in-person classes," The Washington Post writes, noting that the previous CDC guidance recommending six feet of distance for students had been criticized as "overly cautious." Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, earlier this week said this change would "likely" be made by the CDC in light of additional data that has come out.

"There was a good study in the state of Massachusets in which kids who were wearing masks, they looked at three feet versus six feet, and they really found no difference," Fauci explained.

On Friday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the new guidelines "provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction."