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CDC changes school guidance to allow desks to be closer together

The new guidance aims to help more schools reopen safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its guidance for schools, allowing desks to be closer than before amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The new recommendation, which is for K-12 schools, says desks can be 3 feet apart instead of 6 feet as long as students are wearing masks. 

The previous recommendation of 6 feet significantly limited how many students a school or classroom could accommodate. 

In communities with high COVID-19 transmission, the CDC recommends middle and high school students remain at least 6 feet apart if it's not possible to keep students and teachers in assigned groups. 

In elementary schools, where kids are younger and are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID, even in communities with high transmission rates, kids can stay 3 feet apart with masks. 

The CDC does continue to recommend adults in schools remain at least 6 feet from each other and from students.

Other changes in the new guidance include: 

  • The CDC says 6 feet of distance should still be maintained in common areas and where masks can't be worn, like school lobbies and the lunchroom.
  • A distance of 6 feet should be maintained in situations where there are a lot of people talking, cheering or singing, like choir practice, school assemblies and sporting events. 
  • The CDC removes recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. 

These new recommendations are based on evidence and are aimed at helping more schools reopen safely, the CDC says.

This week, Education Minnesota announced that a 5th state educator has died from COVID-19 they contracted while at work. More on that here.

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