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State association of educators seeks clarification on CDC social distancing guideline changes

State educators question CDC's new social distancing guidelines
State educators question CDC's new social distancing guidelines
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 8:48 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - The state’s largest teachers organization is questioning the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and asking for more data and science to support recent social distancing guideline changes for schools.

On Friday, the CDC announced new guideline changes and opened up a flood of questions from various parent groups and teacher organizations.

“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) has urged that we follow the science in determining how best to ensure the safety of students, families, and educators. With the CDC changing their guidance around minimum social distancing in schools from 6 feet to 3 feet in elementary schools, we want to emphasize that 3 feet is an absolute minimum, not the ideal,” NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly said.”

NCAE leaders said the CDC recommends keeping students and teachers in groups throughout the day, maintaining 6 feet of distance between those groups whenever possible, and strictly adhering to other safety protocols. Those protocols include constant masking and vigilant hand washing to keep educators and students as safe as possible.

Adding, in middle schools and high schools where community transmission is high, as it continues to be in many North Carolina counties, the CDC advises students to stay 6 feet apart if grouping is not possible.

The NCAE president said, “For the sake of public trust and clarity, we urge the CDC to provide far more detail about the rationale for the change from 6 feet to 3 feet for students in schools. To clearly and publicly account for differences in the types of school environments, new virus variants, differences in mitigation compliance, and how study participants tested for the virus.

The group’s president added that members are concerned the CDC made changes without demonstrating with science that changes can be implemented in a way that does not detract from the larger long-term needs of students.”

NCAE is the state’s largest education advocacy organization for public school employees and represents active, retired, and student members.

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