(WXYZ) — The CDC has updated its guidance for schools. Students can now maintain a physical distance of 3 feet apart instead of 6 feet apart.
I can see how this may sound alarming to some parents. And I get it - all we’ve heard over the last year is to stay 6 feet apart. But this new 3-foot recommendation only applies to students. And includes middle and high schoolers, unless the virus is spreading at a high rate in the surrounding community.
Now, why did the CDC change their recommendation? Well, they looked at data from several studies. And one study included over half a million students in Massachusetts.
In that state, some of the school districts allowed individual schools to choose if they wanted their students to be 3 feet or 6 feet apart. And after the data was gathered and analyzed, researchers found that there were no substantial differences. So case numbers for 3 feet were similar to case numbers for 6 feet.
Students and teachers should continue to keep 6 feet between them. That goes for teachers and staff as well. Because once again, that recommendation is based on studies that showed virus transmission happens more often between teachers and staff. And less often between students in schools.
Now that the largest outbreaks in Michigan are in K-12 schools, this new recommendation does sound counterproductive. But health officials are saying that high school and youth sports are what’s behind many of the outbreaks. Basketball in particular has been a concern.
To help with this, the CDC also addressed sports in their new recommendations. They would like all activities that increase exhalation to be outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces. And for kids to stay 6 feet apart when they can. They also recommend kids to keep a 6-foot distance when they’re in school common areas like auditoriums or lobbies, and when eating, singing, or playing an instrument.
Also, it’s imperative that all students and adults continue to wear masks. So even though kids will be closer, there are very clear precautions to follow to help lower transmission at school.
The B.1.1.7 is certainly more transmissible and possibly deadlier. And we know now that some variants can bypass our tests like the one found in France. Or it can take longer to get test results back.
But that’s why the CDC has layers of protection in place at the schools. So if one fails, there are others to help keep students and teachers safer.
I can’t stress enough how prevention and pandemic precautions are critical to follow. And so is getting vaccinated.
Now kids can’t get vaccinated just yet. But if they do get infected, and spread the virus to parents or loved ones, those who are vaccinated are less likely to get severely ill and die. Bottom line, you’re more protected and safer if you’re vaccinated.
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