3 feet or 6? Schools, CDC considering guidance to seat students closer together

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new study suggests three feet of social distancing may be just as safe as six feet if other precautions are in place.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve heard people should socially distance by at least six feet to avoid the spread of the virus.

Now the CDC is looking at data that suggests three feet is enough under certain circumstances.

A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases looked at the effectiveness of different physical distancing parameters in school districts.

The study compared infection rates at schools that required at least three feet of distancing with those that required at least six feet.

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“I think this data is really encouraging,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Shirin Mazumder said. “It may allow more schools to open up for in-person learning in a safe manner.”

Dr. Mazumder said the findings show three feet of space may be just as safe as six.

“What they found was there was no difference in infection rates between the schools that distanced at three feet compared to schools that distanced at six feet,” she said.

Mazumder said it’s important to note all the schools in the study had additional safety precautions in place.

“They had good ventilation, proper cleaning techniques, and most importantly – there was a universal masking policy in place at all the schools involved in the study,” she said.

Mazumder said the CDC is looking over the data and running its own tests.

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“They have not changed their recommendation as of yet, but they may be adjusted as more information becomes available,” she said.

The study looked at over 250 school districts in Massachusetts.