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Schools will consider placing students closer together

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BOSTON (AP) – New evidence that it may be safe for schools to accommodate students 3 feet away, half the distance previously proposed, may offer a way to get more children back to classrooms with limited space.

Even as more teachers become vaccinated against COVID-19, social distance guides continue to be a major barrier in the US Debate in the region. The debate over this issue erupted last week, when a study showed that masked students could sit 3 meters away without increasing. risk for them or teachers.

Published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the study looked at Massachusetts schools that have been supporting the 3-foot guide for months. Illinois և Indiana also allows 3 feet, այլ Other states like Oregon are considering doing the same.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently exploring the idea. The agency’s director, Dr. Rochelle Valensky, said the 6-foot guide was “one of the biggest challenges” schools have faced in reopening.

The CDC included greater distance in its latest school guidelines, published in February, concluding that schools could work safely during an epidemic with masks, distance, and other precautions. It suggested 6 feet, saying that the physical distance “should be maximized as much as possible.”

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Other organizations have given more lenient guidelines, including the World Health Organization, which requires 1 meter at school. The American Academy of Pediatrics says on the space tables: “3 feet away, ideally 6 feet away.”

Dan Domenech, executive director of the AASA National Oversight Group, said he expected more states պետ schools to move to the 3-meter rule in the coming weeks. In a larger guide, he said most schools only have space to repatriate half of their students at once. Moving 3 feet at once can allow about 75%, he said.

“There are neighborhoods that have walked 3 feet for quite some time without getting more infected,” he said.

In Illinois last week, health officials said students could sit 3 feet away while their teachers were vaccinated. Previously, government officials demanded 6 feet.

With the blessing of the state, the Barrington district near Chicago reopened high schools on Tuesday, using the smaller space rule. Student Any student is allowed to attend individual classes, although the district expects about 30% to continue distance learning.

Space issues have sparked a battle in Massachusetts where teachers at some schools oppose a state plan to bring junior high school students five days a week from next month. The program encourages schools to accommodate students 3 feet away, although many have used 6 feet as standard. Districts that fail to meet the reopening deadline may risk losing public funding.

The Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, a state-owned union, says placing students closer will increase the risk for everyone in the class. It also poses a problem for districts that have agreed to contract teachers that accept the 6-foot rule as a requirement.

“They can’t just throw six feet out the window. “They can not throw away what was agreed upon,” said Mary Najimi, the union’s president. “If they fail to implement it, they will have to come to a new agreement.”

Worcester Public Schools is among those pushing back at a closer distance. Tracy O’Connell Novik, a member of the district school committee, said the transition to the 3-foot standard “would be a bet on the health of thousands of students and staff.”

At Boston Public Schools, desks should be at least 3 feet away, but teachers և staff will be asked to keep 6 feet away from students և other staff, said Xavier Andrews, district spokesman. He said schools would also use larger rooms and open spaces to keep students at a safe distance.

In some states that already allow a distance of 3 feet, schools say they have seen no evidence of increased risk. School officials in Danville, Indiana, who moved 3 feet in October, said the students were in the classroom all year without a surge of virus transmission.

“It simply came to our notice then. “I would not say there was no transfer, but it was shockingly low, like once or something,” said Tim McRoberts, vice president of the school board. “We have kept our doors open. We did not have temporary interruptions. “

The Ohio Inc school board was very attentive to parents’s others last month when it offered to resume private schooling at the crowded Walnt Hills High School, according to a model that called for just three feet, while other schools would use six feet. ,

Among the critics was Walnut Hills teacher Brandon Keller, who said the program was dangerous. He warned the department that their decision “would be a body count”.

Council members backed down from reopening the school, and weeks later narrowly voted against the plan, which included a phased reopening, but they also warned that the physical distance could be less than six feet. Students also have options to continue their education virtually.

Last week, seven superintendents in downtown Oregon sent a letter to Governor Kate Brown asking the state to ease some of its social distance rules, including a 6-foot ban, to allow more students to return throughout class.

Oregon’s Crook School District, which has had students in classrooms for most of the school year, has found that masks, communicating and sending students home when they have symptoms are the most effective way to fight the virus.

“The 6-foot rule does not make as much sense as other security measures,” said Ason Eason Carr, a district spokesman. “What might have made sense two months ago or at the beginning of the year might not have happened now.”

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Associated Press writers Philip Marcelo, John on Siver և Cantele Franco contributed to this report.

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