CDC: 3 feet of social distancing OK for schools

As long as masks are worn, students in school can be 3 feet apart instead of 6, the CDC said in updated guidance March 19. The guidance applies to K-12 schools.

The new physical distancing requirement is acceptable in all elementary schools, regardless of the level of community transmission, according to the guidance. 

For middle and high schools, the updated guidance is recommended in communities where transmission is low, moderate or substantial. However, in areas with high levels of transmission, middle and high school students should continue to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet. 

Six feet of physical distancing is also still recommended in common areas, when eating or during other times that masks can't be worn, between adults and between students and adults, during indoor activities when more exhalation occurs, such as singing or exercising, and in community settings outside of the classroom. 

The update is based on recent studies that support 3 feet of distance can be safely adopted in schools with universal masking, the CDC said. 

"CDC is committed to leading with science and updating our guidance as new evidence emerges," Rochelle Walensky, MD, CDC director, said in a news release shared with Becker's March 19. "These updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help our schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction." 

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