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CDC considers making three-feet standard distancing in school

The CDC is weighing a change that might recommend decreasing spacing in classrooms.

It’s not easy to keep kids socially distant.

Lindsey West, a fifth-grade teacher at Barton Open School in Minneapolis, knows that better than anyone based on her experience as an educator of younger kids. Although she’s currently still instructing virtual learners in the Minneapolis Public Schools, she’s heard from many of her colleagues about the challenges of spacing kids out in the classroom.

“I know so many teachers who are struggling with that, and feeling anxious about it,” West said. “A lot of us don’t want to spend our whole day focusing on managing being kind of the social distancing police.”

Teachers will now be watching even more closely, as the CDC weighs a potential change in guidance on social distancing in the classroom. It may recommend that three feet is needed for spacing, instead of the standard six, after new Massachusetts research published this month suggested “lower physical distancing policies can be adopted in school settings with masking mandates without negatively impacting student or staff safety.”

“You know, I think that likely will happen,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC’s Today this week, noting that the study from Massachusetts showed strong evidence. “The CDC is analyzing that data very carefully right now, they very well may change -- I don’t want to get ahead of them, but they’re very much on top of this.”

New recommendations could have major implications for school re-openings, since three feet of social distancing would allow more kids to be in a classroom at once.

But for teachers, the same challenge remains.

“As the amount of distance that is being recommended decreases, there is...[a] greater opportunity for your child to be in contact with other kids,” Lindsey West said.

West is fortunate to be vaccinated, but she also knows kids might not get access until the fall or even later.

“You want good things and safety and health for them as well,” West said, “so we still worry for the kids.”

RELATED: 3 feet or 6 feet: CDC weighs changing schools COVID guidance

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