Friday, 19 March 2021 18:59

CDC: Students can be 3 feet apart in most scenarios

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The CDC announced Friday its recommendation that students be only 3 feet apart in most cases. The CDC announced Friday its recommendation that students be only 3 feet apart in most cases. Pixabay

ROCKINGHAM — Students can now sit a little closer together in class, according to federal health officials.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that it was updating its guidance to K-12 schools regarding student proximity.

The CDC recommends that students in elementary schools “remain at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal — regardless of whether community transmission (of COVID-19) is low, moderate, substantial, or high.”

The same goes for middle and high schools except in areas where transmission is high.

In that case, they must remain 6 feet apart if cohorting — “when groups of students are kept together with the same peers and staff throughout the school day to reduce the risk for spread throughout the school” — isn’t possible.

“This recommendation is because COVID-19 transmission dynamics are different in older students — that is, they are more likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and spread it than younger children,” the CDC said in a press release.

“CDC is committed to leading with science and updating our guidance as new evidence emerges,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky. “Safe in-person instruction gives our kids access to critical social and mental health services that prepare them for the future, in addition to the education they need to succeed. These updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction.”

Richmond County Schools, following a split decision by the Board of Education, allowed classes to resume Feb. 1.

On Friday, RCS reported three students, two at Monroe Avenue Elementary and one at Hamlet Middle, tested positive.

Since Feb. 1, there have been 21 staff members, 24 traditional (in-class) students, and 31 virtual students to test positive. 

Virtual students outnumber traditional students in contracting the virus 241-79, according to records kept by RCS since late August of 2020.

Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed off on a bill from state legislators to reopen schools across the state.

"Getting students back into the classroom safely is a shared priority, and this agreement will move more students to in-person instruction while retaining the ability to respond to local emergencies," Cooper said in a statement.

However, that move was opposed by the N.C. Association of Educators, the Carolina Journal reported.

Friday’s news from the CDC was greeted similarly by teachers union leaders.

“ ...not all educators or parents are vaccinated yet. By changing the physical distancing requirements w/o ensuring the schools have the other mitigation, we’re putting schools w/ less space & insufficient ventilation a hole, Randy Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers said on Twitter. 

“I know there is great pressure to get more kids in person,” Weingarten continued to tweet. “We know it’s important & have worked to #ReopenSafely since April. Why not look 4 more space & larger locations to get people back in school so the joy of reopening isn’t clouded by worry.”

The Richmond Observer reached out to Richmond County Schools Friday afternoon, but did not receive a response.