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CDC Updates Physical Distancing Requirement in K-12 Schools to 3 Feet in Classroom Settings

Posted by Alex N. Worthy | Mar 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

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On Friday, March 19, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) announced updated guidance regarding physical distancing requirements in K-12 school districts.  The CDC now recommends a minimum of 3 feet physical distancing in classroom settings for all elementary school students where mask use is universal and other prevention measures are taken.

The CDC's guidance specifies the following distancing recommendations:

  • Elementary Schools: All students in elementary schools remain at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal — regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high.
  • Middle and High Schools in Low/Moderate/Substantial Transmission Communities: Students in middle and high schools should be at least 3 feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal and in communities where transmission is low, moderate, or substantial.
  • Middle and High Schools in High Transmission Communities: Students in middle and high schools should be at least 6 feet apart in communities where transmission is high, if cohorting is not possible.

In its recent guidance, the CDC explains that COVID-19 transmission dynamics are different for older students in that they are more likely to be exposed and transmit COVID-19 than younger elementary school students. 

The CDC continues to recommend at least 6 feet of distance:

  • Between adults in the school building and between adults and students.
  • In common areas, such as school lobbies and auditoriums.
  • When masks cannot be worn, such as when eating.
  • During activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing, shouting, band practice, sports, or exercise. These activities should be moved outdoors or to large, well-ventilated spaces whenever possible.
  • In community settings outside of the classroom.

This guidance represents a significant shift towards the return of in-person instruction, especially for districts struggling with limited classroom size.  Should you have any questions about establishing distancing requirements within your District, please feel free to contact us.

About the Author

Alex N. Worthy

Associate

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