CDC revises school distancing guidelines, teachers’ union not happy

Yesterday (March 18), I wrote about a new study published by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases that found three feet physical distancing policies in K-12 schools didn’t negatively impact student or staff safety. At the end of that post, I noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not issued official guidance on shortening its recommendation of at least six feet of distancing between students but that Dr. Fauci said the CDC is looking into the data.

Friday morning came (March 19), and report headlines confirmed the CDC “has revised its guidance on social distancing in schools, saying most students can now sit three feet apart instead of six feet so long as they are wearing masks.”

The recommendation is for all K-12 students, regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate or substantial, the CDC said.

In communities where transmission is high, the CDC recommends that middle school and high school students remain at least 6 feet apart if schools aren’t able to keep students and teachers in assigned groups. In elementary schools, where younger children have been shown to be at less risk of transmitting the virus than teens, kids can stay safe at 3 feet apart with masks, the agency said.

“We don’t really have the evidence that six feet is required in order to maintain low spread,” said CDC community interventions task force leader Greta Massetti, according to the Associated Press.

“The [distancing] revision brings the CDC closer in line with the epidemiological and pediatric researchers, the global public health community, and the profession last July of its current director, Rochelle Walensky,” reports Matt Welch with The Reason Foundation.

But par for the course, the teachers’ union has pushed back.

“They are compromising the one enduring public health missive that we’ve gotten from the beginning of this pandemic in order to squeeze more kids into schools,” American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten told The Washington Post and Welch cited. “I [Weingarten] think that is problematic until we have real evidence in these harder-to-open places about what the effect is.”

The teachers’ union has come up with objection after objection regarding anything that might move us toward full reopening. But after getting billions — $122 billion, to be exact — from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan that will be disbursed to public schools by the end of March, it’s “time to go to work,” concludes Welch.