PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Students can now safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they are wearing face masks, according to new guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As schools begin to return to hybrid learning, the CDC is updating its guidance on social distancing.
On Friday, the CDC released three new studies that it says supports bringing children in school closer together, going from 6 feet to 3 feet for physical distancing.
Philadelphia public schools are continuing to open more schools to hybrid learning for pre-kindergarten through second-grade students.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says he supports the science and believes children would still be safe.
“I have a very high opinion of the CDC and whatever guidance they’re saying, we will go with,” Farley said.
The Philadelphia School District will reopen 35 more schools on Monday, leading the way to more than 100 schools with about 9,000 students to continue in-person learning two days a week. The goal is to continue to allow more elementary school grades to return before the end of this school year.
The School District of Philadelphia issued this statement after hearing of the CDC’s updated guidance on social distancing saying, in part, “We are pleased to see the updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding 3 feet of distance between students in elementary schools. As we have stated from the very beginning of this pandemic, the School District of Philadelphia will always implement practices that are in line with guidelines and recommendations from the CDC.”
“If there is going to be a change, we will meet with the administration to discuss those changes,” Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has worked closely with the School District of Philadelphia to ensure buildings have layers of safety protocols in place to protect students and staff. They say this new guidance needs to be carefully weighed to continue safe school settings.
“We’ve always followed the science,” Jordan said, “and so as the scientists learn more about COVID-19, there are times when you have to make adjustments based on new information that you get.”
The CDC is continuing its guidance on mask-wearing at all times in schools, frequent hand washing, hand sanitizing stations, and 6 feet distance in common areas.