CDC Reviewing 6-Foot Distance Guidance For Schools

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said this week the agency is reviewing its recommendation that students and staff stay 6 feet apart in classrooms if the schools are in communities with high transmission of the virus.

The review comes after a recent study indicated in-person learning could be done safely if people stay just 3 feet apart as long as everyone’s wearing masks, ABC News reported.

The CDC’s recommendation of 6 feet distance has prompted many school districts to continue offering virtual or hybrid learning so long as COVID-19 case counts remain high. 

At the time the CDC released its school guidance last month, more than 90% of schools were in communities with high transmission, although that number has been declining.

“As soon as we put out our guidance, among the biggest challenges that we were aware of was the fact that schools were having a hard time with the 6-foot guidance,” Walensky said, as reported by ABC News. “And that, of course, prompted more studies to say, ‘Is 6-feet necessary in the context of mask wearing?'”

Researchers say respiratory viruses transmit through large droplets from people standing within 6 feet of each other. Walensky has said the 6-feet guidance comes from research on similar viruses and that less is known about 3-feet of distancing.

A study, published last week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, looked at 242 school districts in Massachusetts last fall that imposed mandates of either 6-feet or 3-feet of distancing, and the study found that there was no visible difference in infection rates among students and staff if there was universal mask wearing.

The study didn’t look at whether COVID-19 cases were transmitted in school or out of school, and most schools in the study didn’t test for asymptomatic spread.

Walensky didn’t say when the CDC might change its guidance, if at all. 

In other news:

  • Dallas County Wednesday reported 215 more COVID-19 cases —  182 confirmed cases and 33 probable — and 10 additional deaths. The county also reported 237 COVID-19 patients in acute care as of Tuesday, and the number of emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms in Dallas County was 335 for the same time-period, which represents around 12 percent of all emergency department visits in the county according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council. 
  • The Texas Department of State Health Services says the decrease in COVID spread is stalling. In the last seven days, the state averaged 3,309 new cases per day, 4,120 hospitalizations, and 143 new deaths a day.
  • The city of Dallas’ vaccination efforts resume today at The Potter’s House. The city this week will give out 5,000 first doses of the Moderna vaccine on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Second-dose distribution will resume at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center next week.
  • A bill passed Wednesday by the Texas Senate gives long-term care residents the right to name an essential caregiver, who can visit them for at least two hours a day, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *