The revised recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has sharply limited how many students some schools can accommodate.
"The administration believes the classroom is the safest and best place for students when protocols are followed, and will continue to support districts with resources like pooled testing and more than $1 billion in funding", she wrote.
The new recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a boost to the Biden administration's goal of reopening in-person learning for millions of public school students without sparking outbreaks of the virus. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC's community interventions task force.
"Balancing the need to let the approval process of the AstraZeneca vaccine take place in the USA with the importance of helping to stop the spread in other countries, we will loan a portion of our releasable AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada", he said.
Removes recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. Teachers, staff members, and other adults should keep 6 feet of distance between themselves and students, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the CDC director, said during a press briefing on Friday.
The new federal guidelines ease the 6-foot rule for middle and high schools when transmission in the community is low; 6 feet of distance is recommended, though, when transmission is high and students can't be taught in small groups. The new recommendations also place additional importance on ventilation, which experts have long criticized the CDC for not adequately emphasizing. But spacing between students varied, with many schools using a minimum of three feet.
At least 6 feet of distancing is still advised for students of all ages whenever masks can not be worn, such as when eating, and during any activities like singing, exercise, or band practice that involve "increased exhalation".
In neighborhoods where transmission is high, teenagers should sit at least six feet apart if they can not cohort - which is when groups of students are kept together throughout the day to reduce spread. That includes chorus practice, assemblies and sports events.
Even with a new federal guideline, Lantagne said, the decision of whether to have older students separated by 3 feet or 6 feet can be a hard one that varies from community to community.
"CDC now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings", the update, published Friday, said.
'Safe in-person instruction gives our kids access to critical social and mental health services that prepare them for the future, in addition to the education they need to succeed.
The CDC's 6-foot advice for schools, issued a year ago, was the same standard applied to workplaces and other settings.
Now, the guidance says 3-feet of distancing can be deployed in most cases, although there are exceptions.
The new guidance come after a new study found there was no difference in COVID-19 case rates in districts where pupils sat further apart in classrooms compared to those where children sat closer together. His sign reads, "I miss my school".
The Ridley school system in suburban Philadelphia took steps like that to abide by the 6-foot guideline. But neighboring communities went with 3 feet, "and we're not seeing the data really reflect a different spread rate", said Lee Ann Wentzel, the district's superintendent.
But districts can not make any changes unless the New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) gives them the green light.
"CDC is committed to leading with science and updating our guidance as new evidence emerges", she said in a statement Friday.
One was a study in Utah that found low coronavirus transmission rates among students who did a good job wearing masks and whose desks were only 3 feet apart.