As Anya Kamenetz, Cory Turner, and Allison Aubrey report on the NPR website today:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for schools. On Friday, the agency announced it “now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings.”

Previously the guidance stated, “Physical distancing (at least 6 feet) should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.” The new guidelines still call for 6 feet of distance between adults and students as well as in common areas, such as auditoriums, and when masks are off, such as while eating. And the 6-foot distancing rule still applies for the general public in settings such as grocery stores.

This news is causing a good deal of consternation in my family. COVID cases are going up in our local schools right now. There has been an extremely high risk level in the community for several weeks, and in-person instruction is expanding anyway. Our school systems have been flatly stating that they will open even though they cannot conform with some of the requirements. This change in CDC requirements makes it easier for them to comply.

I think the changing of, and complexity in, the distancing rules makes them seem suspect and less likely to be followed at all. This concern is counterbalanced, however, by my belief that distancing helps very little in the classroom, because every classroom I have seen has poor ventilation. My wife and I are keeping our kids remote until the end of the school year. We are still hopeful enough to consider September as the right time to send them back to in-person learning.