CDC Revises Physical Distancing Guidelines for K-12 Schools

In addition to new physical distancing recommendations, the updated guidelines continue to stress the importance of everyone always and properly wearing masks.

CDC Revises Physical Distancing Guidelines for K-12 Schools

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today updated its physical distancing guidelines for K-12 schools. Now, there needs to be at least 3 feet between students to slow the spread of COVID-19. The previous recommendation was 6 feet.

The guidelines continue to stress the importance of everyone always and properly wearing masks. They also stress the need for layers of protection, including ventilation, hand washing and screening.

The revised physical distancing guidelines apply to elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. However, if there is a high level of coronavirus spread in the community, physical distancing at middle and high schools should be 6 feet if cohorting isn’t possible.

Adults should continue to stay 6 feet away from each other because transmission among adults is more common than between students and staff and among students.

The change is a result of new data from three studies that found it’s safe for students to only be 3 feet away from each other, as long as everyone wears a mask and other prevention measures are in place. Students should continue to stay 6 feet apart at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or choir practice — situations where there is a lot of talking, cheering or singing, or where masks can’t be worn.

The revised physical distancing guidelines mean that more students will be able to return to in-person classes and be at school for longer periods of time.

Recently, schools in some states have embraced the 3-foot standard, reports WGRZ. Studies of some of these campuses helped convince the CDC to revise its guidelines.

CDC removed its recommendation for physical barriers between desks. It also clarified that ventilation is a component of strategies to clean and maintain healthy facilities.

The revised guidelines come as Europe is experiencing a third surge of COVID-19 infections. Many parts of Italy have gone back into lockdown, and France announced new restrictions on 16 regions, including Paris and Nice, reports CNN. Germany has halted its plans to ease its lockdown, and Spain is restricting travel over Easter.

Experts are concerned that the U.S. could soon experience a third surge as well.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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