WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The CDC announced new school guidelines that will make it easier for schools to open, including allowing some students to sit closer together.
The new CDC guidelines say elementary school students only need to maintain 3 feet of physical distance in the classroom.
“K-12 schools that implement strong layered prevention strategies can operate safely while protecting teachers, staff and students,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “CDC continues to recommend at least 6 feet of distance between teachers and staff and other adults in the school buildings, and between adults and students.”
But the CDC also emphasized the new guidelines will only keep students safe if masks are universally worn in classrooms.
The new 3-feet recommendation also applies to some middle and high school students. But, the CDC said, if community spread is high, middle and high school students must remain 6 feet apart unless thaty can stay with the same group throughout the entire day. Adults should still keep their distance.
The recommendation for 6 feet remains in place when masks cannot be worn, such as when eating. Activities like singing, playing certain instruments and physical education should happen outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces.
Schools should continue additional cleaning, hand washing, COVID testing and contact tracing.
The task force said schools will receive $10 billion for testing programs and nearly $130 billion for mitigation strategies.
White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients said those strategies include “PPE, additional space, hiring more teachers. And at the president’s direction, we’re also working to get all educators vaccinated.”