California now recommends 3 feet of space between students in classrooms after CDC updates guidance

California
A kindergarten teacher collects crayons from students in her classroom at Lupin Hill Elementary School in Calabasas on Nov. 9, 2020. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A kindergarten teacher collects crayons from students in her classroom at Lupin Hill Elementary School in Calabasas on Nov. 9, 2020. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Aligning with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California is now allowing schools to space classroom desks closer together, officials announced Saturday.

Students can sit as close as 3 feet apart in classrooms, rather than the usual 6-foot distancing recommendation meant to curb coronavirus transmission.

The CDC on Friday relaxed its social distancing guidance for schools, saying students nationwide can safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks.

The agency still recommends students keep 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch and chorus practice.

“CDPH’s quick response serves to mitigate potential confusion as schools throughout the state actively resume in-person instruction and plan for the summer and fall,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.

The change allows more children to learn together in the same room, just as more schools are set to welcome back students.

But counties and school district can choose to have stricter protocols.

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said Sunday that the district’s schools will still follow the 6-foot rule, the L.A. Times reported.

The CDC updated its distancing standard at schools after a recent study in Massachusetts found no significant difference in infection rates between schools that used the 3-foot standard and those that had the 6-foot one, the Associated Press reported.

California state officials on Saturday also announced that all schools will be eligible to reopen if coronavirus case rates in the region drop below 25 per 100,000 residents.

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