Three Feet or Six? Distancing Guideline for Schools Stirs Debate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clear and consistent in its social removal recommendation: To reduce the risk of contracting coronaviruses, people must stay at least six feet away from others who are not in their homes. The guideline maintains that you are eating in a restaurant, lifting weights in the gym or learning long division in fourth grade class.

The guidelines have been particularly consequential for schools, many of which have not fully reopened, as they do not have enough space to hold students to six points.

Now, with a better understanding of how the virus spreads and growing concern about the harm of keeping children out of school, some public health experts are calling on the agency to reduce the distance from six feet to three in schools Huh.

Dean of Brown University School of Public Health, Drs. Ashish Jha said, “It never struck me that Six Feet was particularly erotic in the context of mitigation.” “I wish the CDC had just come out and said that this is not a big issue.”

On Sunday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Drs. Anthony S. The neighbor, Said on CNN that the CDC was Reviewing the case.

This idea remains somewhat controversial, as some studies have directly compared different distancing strategies. But this issue also dominates a severely difficult and often personal question: how safe is safe?

Specialist of infectious diseases at Boston University, Drs. Benjamin Linus said, “There is no magic limit for any distance.” “There is a risk at six feet, there is a risk at three feet, there is a risk at nine feet. There is always a risk. “They said,” The question is, how much is the risk? And what do you give in return? “

The core of the six-foot distance recommendation is some mystery. “It’s almost as if it was taken out of thin air,” said Linsey Mara, an expert in viral transmission at Virginia Tech University.

When the virus first emerged, many experts believed that it was mainly transmitted through large respiratory droplets, which are relatively heavy. Older scientific studies, some dating back more than a century, suggested that these drops do not travel more than three to six feet. Dr. Marr said that this observation, as well as an abundance of caution, could prompt the CDC to make its six-foot suggestion.

But that recommendation was not universal. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a social distance of three to six feet in schools, but the World Health Organization recommends just one meter or 3.3 feet.

And since last year, scientists have learned that respiratory drops are not the primary method of coronovirus transmission. Instead, the virus is mostly spread through small airborne droplets known as aerosols, which can travel long distances at unpredictable distances and flow through rooms.

The data also shows that schools appear to be Relatively low risk environment; Children under the age of 10 transmit the virus more easily than adults.

In recent months, there have been indications that a distance of six feet may not be necessary in school settings. Schools with sagging policies have also generally had lower case rates. Dr. “We know that many schools have opened less than six feet and have not seen major outbreaks,” Jha said.

Analysis of observational studies in a wide variety of settings in 2020, Researchers found The physical distance of at least one meter of many different coronaviruses, including those that cause Kovid-19, has decreased significantly. But he found some evidence to suggest that the two-meter guideline “may be more effective.”

Emergency medicines director of infectious disease dr. Alyssa Perkins said, “One of the really important figures to disappear is the head-to-head comparison of the locations that were applied at a distance of three feet versus six feet.” Management at Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Perkins and his colleagues recently made such comparisons by taking advantage of a natural experiment in Massachusetts. Last summer, the state’s Department of Education issued guidelines to recommend a range of three to six feet in schools that were planning to reopen in the fall. As a result, school policies differ: some districts have strict, six-foot disturbances, while others require just three. (The state required all staff members as well as students in the second grade and above to wear masks.)

The researchers found that the social distancing strategy had no statistical effect on the Kovid-19 case rates, Team reported Last week in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study also found that the Kovid-19 rate was lower in schools than in surrounding communities.

The authors state that the findings assure that schools can loosen their distant requirements and still remain safe, provided they take other precautions, such as wearing universal masks.

“Masking still appears to be effective,” said Dr. Westin Branch-Elliman, an infectious disease specialist at Westing Healthcare System. “And so, provided we have universal masking mandates, I think it’s very appropriate to follow the three-foot recommendation.”

Not everyone finds the study so concrete. An infectious disease researcher from Santa Cruz University, California. Murm Kilpatrick said there was too much noise from the school-district figures. “It doesn’t really allow you to get, I think, an answer you can really feel confident in,” he said.

The authors of the study acknowledge that they cannot rule out the possibility that the increase provided a small benefit.

With aerosol transmission, safety generally increases with distance; The more aerosols they travel, the thinner they become. “It’s like being close to a non-smoker,” Dr. Marr said. “The closer you are, the more you breathe.”

And the distance to one side, the more people in a room, the greater the chance that one of them will be infected with a coronavirus. The six-foot rule helps reduce that risk, said Donald Milton, an aerosol expert at the University of Maryland: “If people are six feet apart, you can’t pack them. And so, it’s less safe because It is dense. “

Masks and good ventilation do a lot to reduce the risk. Scientists said that with these measures, a difference of three and six feet was likely to be relatively small. And if Kovid-19 is not very prevalent in the surrounding community, the absolute risk of contracting the virus in schools is likely to remain low, as long as these are safety locations.

“We can always do things to reduce our risk,” Drs. Marr said. “But at some point, you reach low returns, and you have to think about the costs of trying to mitigate those additional risks.”

Some experts say the benefits of a complete reopening of the schools increase the risk slightly. “While trying to follow the six-foot guideline we should not prevent children from going back to school full time with masks with a distance of at least three feet,” Dr. Marr said.

Others said it was too soon to loosen the CDC guidelines. “Ultimately, I think there may be a place for this changing guidance,” said Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University. “But it is no longer, when we are struggling to get people vaccinated, we are still seeing more than 60,000 cases a day and are not trying to reverse the progress we are making. “

Even proponents of changing the guidelines say that any changes must be made cautiously to remove procrastination, and in combination with other precautionary measures. “If you’re in an area that doesn’t have a strong tendency to rely on masks, then I don’t think it would be wise to spread our data in that environment,” Dr. Perkins said.

Furthermore, if they set different standards for schools than other shared spaces, officials pose a threat in sending public health messages. “I have evolved on this,” Dr. Linas said. “Last summer I felt like, ‘How can we convince people that it’s six feet everywhere except schools? It’s not consistent and problematic.'”

But the schools are unique, he said. They are relatively controlled environments that can implement certain security measures, and they have unique benefits for society. “School benefits differ from cinematographic or restaurant benefits,” he said. “So I’m willing to assume a little more risk to keep them open.”

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