CDC's new distancing guidelines relieve pressure on schools as in-person learning returns

new normal classroom social distancing
Posted at 5:29 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 19:55:16-04

CINCINNATI — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that, with universal masking, students at K-12 schools should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings, instead of the previous 6 feet recommended.

The change in recommendation relieves a lot of pressure on local school districts working to get children back into classrooms full time, while still following the precautions necessary to do so safely.

"Today was great," said Mary Ronan, superintendent of Norwood City Schools. "We had the band playing, the cheerleaders out, and balloons and everything to welcome our students back."

On Monday, Norwood Middle and High Schools celebrated returning to classrooms full time for five days a week for the first time since the pandemic began. The district has been on a hybrid model since August.

"We have Plexiglass around the desks and of course all the students are wearing a mask and in the cafeteria we have spread the tables out," said Ronan.

Norwood's move back to full-time in-person learning coincided with the CDC's change in operational strategy.

Lakota Local Schools are also implementing the new distancing criteria. Staff and students in the district have already been back in the classroom full time since August.

"We try to do six when possible, but in a class where we have the majority of our students back," said Betsy Fuller, with Lakota Local Schools.

She said the 3-feet distancing is working because numbers of cases are down drastically over the semester.

"It's been very little, if any, spread," she said. "We have 23 buildings and when the state was seeing spikes after Halloween and Thanksgiving, our numbers increased as well, but we were able to trace that back to out-of-school activities and family gatherings."

Both districts said it's refreshing and exciting to have students back in the classroom full time and, hopefully, for good.

"This is starting to feel like normal again, so we are just so happy," said Ronan.