New CDC Guidelines Permit Students To Sit Closer Together So Long As Masks Remain
The CDC has just released the second major shift in its federal COVID-19 guidelines (following its declaration that “fully vaccinated” individuals can ignore masks requirements and other social distancing measures while visiting with friends and family in private). In an update released Friday, the CDC said K-12 students in schools that practice “universal masking” can safely sit three feet apart, instead of six feet apart.
While teachers are still encouraged to maintain at least six feet of distance, US media outlets posited that the decision “could speed the reopening of schools,” according to WSJ.
Teachers are being asked to continue observing the 6-feet of distance because COVID transmission rates are higher among adults.
Students are asked to continue keeping six feet of distance from one another during eating and activities like singing or sports, or at other times when masks can’t be worn, as well as in common areas like school lobbies and auditoriums. The new guidelines apply regardless of whether community spread is low, average or high.
Some teachers and parents have scoffed at President Joe Biden’s insistence that he plans to reopen K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office, and the latest guideline change offers a hint as to why. While the CDC played up the change, parents and teachers complained that enforcing these guidelines is much more easily said than done.
Around the country, some of the largest public school districts have been engaged in a battle with teachers’ unions about the plans for reopening.
China reduced the mandatory distance between students in its schools last year, and a recent study examining Massachusetts schools indicated that reducing the distancing requirements to three feet likely wouldn’t negatively affect student or staff safety (so long as mask mandates remain).
The study compared 251 school districts with different distancing requirements and found little deviation in case rates among students and staff members (so long as everyone wore masks).
During an interview on CNBC earlier, former FDA head Dr. Scott Gottlieb slammed the CDC for focusing too much on these picayune guidelines, arguing that the federal government should focus instead on “getting on top of these new variants”.
“This is what the CDC should be doing not still arbitrating 3 feet vs. 6 feet a year later. We should be on top of these new variants, evaluating what their clinical course is. We shouldn’t have to wait months to get this information,” says @ScottGottliebMD. pic.twitter.com/rcSnpGHaPl
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) March 19, 2021
The whole episode reminds us of a testy exchange between Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier this week: When Paul questioned mandatory mask guidelines for people who have already received the vaccine, saying “isn’t it just theater” Dr. Fauci rolled his eyes and exclaimed “here we go again with the theater” before insisting that this isn’t the case.
And this latest change doesn’t exactly lend credibility to the good doctor’s remarks.
Fri, 03/19/2021 – 11:36