"So there's a new study coming out of Massachusetts that suggests there is no difference in safety between six feet and and three feet, but what we know about the six-foot distance is that it was designed to create safe limits to how many people can congregate inside of a confined space and a closed space – that's the classroom in the school buildings. When you decrease the distancing, naturally, you're going to increase the number of people in those confined spaces. Therefore, you will increase the risk and students, educators and families will take that risk out of the buildings and bring it home to their communities."
3. Close up of the "school" signage
4. Close up of signage alerting visitors to check for symptoms related to COVID-19 and consider conducting business with them using alternative means if they are exhibiting any symptom
"What we learned early on was that COVID is an airborne disease, it travels in micro aerosolized particles and school ventilation systems have not ... prior to the pandemic and and during the pandemic, have not been able to clean the air to keep it infectious free. The unions have been working for an entire year to make sure that we implement stringent guidelines of the CDC, like fixing the ventilation, maintaining, distancing, masking. It's a combination of all of those strategies that make schools safe."
7. Close up of a packaged free meal for students whose families are strugging as a result of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
"No matter what school, in what state, where we are educating our children of the United States, the the mitigation strategies are all the same. We need rigid implementation of ventilation systems to control infection. We need all school employees to be vaccinated. We need systemic weekly COVID testing to assess the risks. We need masking."
12. Assel Suleimenova monitoring her children at a public playground with her children
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Assel Suleimenova, Mother of Two:
"I think it's very important to kids to ... to be closer and as soon as there are no risks, no potential risk, and as soon as the school and the ... the system will provide their conditions, like safe conditions for kids, I think we should, trust and follow the the results of the research."
New evidence that it may be safe for schools to seat students 3 feet apart — half of the previous recommended distance — could offer a way to return more of the nation's children to classrooms with limited space.
Social distancing guidelines have remained a major hurdle for districts across the U.S.
Debate around the issue flared last week when a study suggested that masked students can be seated as close as 3 feet apart with no increased risk to them or teachers.
Massachusetts officials have backed the 3-foot guideline for months, but the main teachers' union say the state still needs to upgrade ventilation systems in schools and vaccinate teachers before that happens.
Illinois and Indiana are also allowing 3 feet of distance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now exploring the idea too.
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