The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could “soon” ease its coronavirus-related physical distancing guidelines for in-person learning from six-feet to three, researchers tell Fox News.
A researcher among those who recently penned an opinion piece claiming the CDC misinterpreted findings, including data on safe distancing in the classroom, told Fox News an unnamed CDC employee expects a shift in the agency’s guidance “soon.”
The unnamed CDC employee is involved with the school reopening response and is eager to see the CDC criteria change, according to Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine and associate division chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at University of California- San Francisco. Further confirmation on the expected shift in guidance came from co-author Tracy Beth Hoeg, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and epidemiologist at University of California-Davis and Sports Medicine at Northern California Orthopaedic Associates.
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When questioned about a potential shift in the distancing guidelines, CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said, “I have nothing at the moment.”
The researchers say there is enough scientific evidence to support the CDC easing its guidelines from six to three feet in schools. Gandhi specifically cited a new article published Wednesday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, which found similar coronavirus case rates in school districts with three feet versus six feet of distancing, among additional evidence finding minimal virus transmission in schools despite significant community disease prevalence, where students were seated less than six feet apart.
“I do not know when the loosening of the guidelines will occur, but I for one wish it would happen immediately,” Hoeg wrote.
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Some action has already occurred at the state-level to shift guidelines. The Illinois Department of Public Health, for instance, revised its definition for safe distancing on March 10, spokeswoman Melaney Arnold confirmed to Fox News.
“Social distance for in-person learning is now defined as 3 to 6 feet for students and fully vaccinated staff,” reads the IDPH webpage. “Maintaining 6 feet remains the safest distance, but schools can operate at no less than 3 feet in order to provide in-person learning.”