A new study on COVID-19 safety in schools suggests that 3 feet of distance is just as effective as 6 feet, sparking new conversations about letting children return to in-person learning.
The study, published last Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that an increase in physical distance from 3 feet to 6 feet in Massachusetts schools returned no statistically significant differences in COVID infection rates among staff or students.
Researchers concluded that 3 feet of physical distancing can be safely adopted in school settings, so long as staff and students continue to wear masks.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on CNN's State of the Union, where he said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is aware of the new data and will be conducting its own tests.
"What the CDC wants to do is accumulate data, and when data shows ability to be three feet, they will act accordingly," he told Jake Tapper. "I don't want to get ahead of official guidelines."
"The CDC is very well aware that data are accumulating making it look more like three feet or OK under certain circumstances. They're analyzing that," he added. "And I can assure you, within a reasonable period of time, quite reasonable, they will be giving guidelines according to the data that they have."
The CDC guidelines currently state that students should remain 6 feet apart.
Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, agreed that data from the study "indeed" suggested that 3 feet is a safe enough distance for students.
According to the New York Times, the World Health Organization recommends 3.3 feet of physical distancing.
U.S. states are able to decide their own recommendations, and several have already lowered their physical distance requirements.
Illinois recently dropped its guidelines to "no less than 3 feet," and some school districts in Massachusetts allow 3 feet of distance as well, according to Business Insider.
Some states, including Texas, have decided to completely halt COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and public life, The Hill reported.
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