"WITH TUESDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT by state officials that they want to see all elementary grade students back in classrooms five days a week by April, now comes the hard part of the details of how to do it.
Looming large in the challenge of getting students back into classrooms is a term that’s become part of the daily lexicon of pandemic policy debates: social distancing. Call it the elephant in the classroom.
Most public health recommendations have urged people to maintain at least six feet of separation from those not in their household. The federal Centers for Disease Control says six feet should also apply in school settings. But the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in guidelines for the school year released last June, said three feet is adequate.
The state guidelines encourage districts to “aim for six feet of distance between individuals where feasible,” but say maintaining a distance of three feet, in combination with other mitigation efforts, “is informed by evidence and balances the lower risk of COVID-19 transmission and the overarching benefits of in-person school.” The state guidelines note that this approach aligns with recommendations of the World Health Organization, which says one meter (three feet, three inches) of social distancing is adequate to reduce risk of transmitting coronavirus. "
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Note: Actually while the social distancing is a key component of the debate, the other more important point is ignored by this article: prioritizing teachers for vaccines. Get them vaccinated, and the discussion will change significantly. There should still be some choice for individual families within districts to choose to be remote.