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Is 3 feet better than 6? CDC to review distance needed in schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might decrease social distancing limits for children

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Mallory Record teaches an Advanced Placement government and comparative politics class at Jordan High School in Sandy on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently shared his thoughts on whether or not 3 feet of distance is good for people or not.

Mallory Record teaches an Advanced Placement government and comparative politics class at Jordan High School in Sandy on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might decrease social distancing limits for children.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently reviewing a new study suggesting 3 feet of distance between desks in schools might be as safe as 6 feet.

What’s going on?

The CDC currently calls for schools to have seating and desks “at least 6 feet apart when feasible.” This is a commonplace practice for all social distancing measures.

However, a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that 3 feet of distance might be just as effective — but only when everyone is masked up, The New York Timesreports.

  • The researchers involved with the study reviewed Massachusetts schools that required 3 feet of distance and those requiring 6 feet of distance.
  • The study “found no significant difference in the coronavirus case rates among students or staff in the two cohorts,” according to NPR.

What does the CDC say?

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said Monday at a White House COVID-19 briefing that the CDC is reviewing the data and considering it, according to NPR.

  • “We are looking at these data carefully,” Walensky said. “The question actually prompted more studies to be done, so we know more are forthcoming. We’re taking all of those data carefully and revisiting our guidances in that context.”

Similarly, Dr. Anthony Fauci, an adviser to President Joe Biden on COVID-19, told CNN over the weekend that the CDC will review the data.

  • “When the data shows that there is an ability to be 3 feet, (the CDC) will act accordingly,” Fauci told CNN. “The CDC is very well aware that data are accumulating making it look more like 3 feet are OK under certain circumstances.”

Bigger picture

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on Twitter that the 6 feet rule might actually keep children out of school. A change to 3 feet might help bring kids back amid the pandemic.

  • He said the findings are “good because 6 feet doesn’t protect teachers. But it does keep kids out of school. Want to open schools safely? Masks, ventilation, testing, vaccinating teachers/staff. That’s the list. And no deep cleaning please (because it doesn’t help anyone, he added).”