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CDC changes guideline, says schools can put desks closer together

CDC changes guideline, says schools can put desks closer together”

This suggests that school buildings may be safer locations for both students and teachers to be than in cities or towns. The Medford School District is down about one-third of its normal bus drivers on the payroll, Champion admitted, and the District is working to recruit more as quickly as possible.

The guidance urged schools to conduct widespread COVID-19 testing of students and said such regular use of screening tests offers added protection for schools that require fewer than six feet of separation. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC's community interventions task force.

"We are concerned that the CDC has changed one of the basic rules for how to ensure school safety without demonstrating certainty that the change is justified by the science and can be implemented in a manner that does not detract from the larger long-term needs of students", she wrote in a statement.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the revised recommendations are an "evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction". "We are all too aware that many interests have been pushing for faster school reopening; it's critical that the CDC transparently show this is rigorously science-based". "I see no reason why we wouldn't be back in in-person instruction before long".

The new guidelines won't change anything in the way the district operates, he said. The CDC recommends that older children in areas with high community spread continue to social distance at six feet.

For elementary schools, it said, three feet of distance among students is sufficient no matter what the infection rates are in the surrounding community. Also, younger children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus and don't seem to spread it as much as adults do, and "that allows us that confidence that that 3 feet of physical distance is safe". But neighboring communities went with 3 feet, "and we're not seeing the data really reflect a different spread rate", said Lee Ann Wentzel, district superintendent.

The CDC says middle school and high school students should be at least 6 feet apart in communities where transmission is high, if cohorting is not possible. That is hard to do in middle and high school, where students typically mix up into different groups depending on the course.

Massetti said other research has also been influential, including two studies the CDC released Friday.

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It would be up to local districts even if the county says it's OK to avoid the barriers. Mask use among more than 10,000 students and 1,200 staff was high and students were grouped in classroom cohorts.

The CDC said students are required to wear masks on school buses and any other forms of public transit they use to get to school.

So, that was a key piece of evidence that they pointed to.

Since a year ago, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has used 3 feet as a minimum distance for students and staff inside schools during the pandemic.

The CDC has relaxed its physical distancing requirements for K-12 schools. Almost all the schools implemented multiple mitigation measures - masking, ventilation upgrades and handwashing stations.

But that changed Friday when the federal agency announced that 3 feet would suffice across all grade levels, at least in most circumstances.

"You need to be nuanced with the recommendation for children over 12 as they can transmit more like adults", said Lantagne, whocosigned a letter to Riley last month supporting his 3-foot guidance; the letter has since been signed by more than 300 people. It found that youth cases were correlated with rates in the community and that school reopening did not appear to fuel spread observed in some group residences or some high-density workplaces.

News of updated student social distancing guidelines was met with enthusiasm Friday at Burrell School District, where Superintendent Shannon Wagner said about 70% of students have chosen in-person learning throughout the school year.

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