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.