Keeping their distance: TCSS staying 6 feet apart, despite change in guidance

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2021

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The Center for Disease Control released new guidance for schools in March, saying that the 6-foot barrier between students could be reduced to 3 feet in cases where everyone is wearing a mask.

However, the Troup County School System is continuing with 6 feet of social distancing, according to Assistant Superintendent Chip Medders. 

Medders said the CDC did change its guidance for schools, but it didn’t adjust its contact tracing guidance, which still says anyone within 6 feet — for 15 minutes or more — of someone who contracts COVID-19 has to quarantine.

Therefore, TCSS determined that changing its spacing from 6 feet to 3 feet would likely result in more quarantined students.

“The contact tracing still remained at six foot,” Medders said. “For example, if you had a positive case in the classroom then anyone within six feet of that positive case for 15 minutes or more was still going to have to be quarantined. So, to prevent us from increasing our number of quarantines, our plan is really just to stay in that six-foot contact tracing, social distancing that we’ve been practicing all year.”

Medders also noted that the school year is almost over, with just a couple of months left to go, so changing now, after so many months, might cause more problems. 

“I think if you start moving people — five-foot, four-foot, three-foot — and there’s a positive case, our quarantine numbers are going to go up,” Medders said. “I mean, it just makes sense. So, we’re going to remain the way we are.”

Specifically, the CDC guidelines say that elementary schools that have universal masking should keep students 3 feet apart, regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate, substantial or high. 

In middle and high schools, the CDC recommends the same, except for in cases where community transmission is high, if cohorting is not possible. Cohorting is where students remain with the same group of students all day to prevent spread throughout an entire school.

The CDC is still recommending that adults keep 6 feet apart of other adults and students in the school building and that 6 feet of distance be used in school lobbies, auditoriums and when masks can’t be worn, such as when eating.