US says three feet distancing in schools enough in most cases

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) health authorities on Friday revised downward their recommendations on the amount of distance needed between school students, citing the latest research on limited coronavirus spread among children as the government pushes to reopen schools.

The announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduces the minimum distance for students in elementary schools – generally ages five to 11 – from six feet to three feet whatever the current rate of community transmission.

Similar guidance applies to middle schools, – ages 11 to 13 – and high school, which covers up to age 17 or 18, except when community transmission is high, in which case the six-foot rule still applies.

However, middle and high school students in communities where transmission is high can still be three feet apart if it’s possible to keep them in cohorts of the same students and peers throughout the day.

All scenarios assume universal mask use.

The CDC published three new studies on Friday in support of the guidance.

Together, they showed transmission rates in schools were low even when students were spaced three feet apart.