FOR RELEASE: March 19, 2021
Today’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control, as well a similar announcement earlier this week by the World Health Organization, that three feet of separation between students in classrooms is sufficient to ensure their safety, rather than the previous guidance of six feet, offers greater flexibility for school districts to accommodate parents who want to see their children back in school.
The new CDC guidance, if adopted by New York State, would essentially double the number of students that could learn together in a single classroom and reduce their reliance on remote learning.
The problem is, the state Department of Health guidance still calls for six feet, in the absence of physical barriers in the classroom. As a result, school districts are getting mixed messages from our county, state and national health officials, causing confusion among school districts and educators over what they need to do to open safely. Without clear action from the state, this confusion will continue and there will still be a patchwork of different distancing requirements from county to county.
NYSSBA urges Gov. Cuomo and the state Health Department to consider adopting the three-foot guideline in New York, or explain why they believe scientific evidence does not support such a change.
We have full confidence in our schools, which have proven they can keep children and staff safe in accordance with science.