Michigan County Experimenting with Social Distancing Guidelines in Schools


After a damning New York Times report in which a Virginia Tech virologist said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) six-foot social distancing guidelines appeared to be pulled out of “thin air,” one Michigan county is experimenting with three feet of social distancing in schools.

“The Kent County Health Department is in the middle of a study that officials hope will reduce the social distance requirements in all pre-k through 8th grade classrooms,” a WZZM report said. “During the six-week pilot study, any student that has been within three feet of a COVID-positive student for 15 minutes or more — within 48 hours — must quarantine at home for 10 days. Before that, quarantine was triggered at a distance of six feet.”

Star News Education Foundation Journalism ProjectThe six feet guidelines have been cited as a key factor in keeping schools closed, due to the capacity of classroom space and the impossibility of keeping children six feet apart.

But all of that might change.

“While we want to continue to quarantine when necessary, we don’t want to over-quarantine. And, if there is no significant public health benefit in quarantining children, then we don’t want to do it,” Joann Hoganson, the Kent County Health Department’s director of community wellness reportedly said. “We know that quarantining children and making them miss 10 days of schools [sic] is extremely disruptive to the family, and has a really detrimental impact on children’s’ [sic] education, and can even have a negative impact on their emotional health.”

She says that six feet of social distancing is the “gold standard.”

But according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden and the face of America’s COVID-19 restrictions, that is no longer true.

“There was a good study in the state of Massachusetts in which kids who were wearing masks, they looked at 3 feet versus 6 feet. And they really found no difference,” he said in an interview on NBC News’ “Today” show.

“So the CDC is analyzing that data very carefully right now. They very well may change. I don’t want to get ahead of them. But they are very much on top of this and looking at that data. So they will reconsider about that distance,” he continued.

Hoganson says that the Kent County Health Department, which is in the third week of its six week study, will measure COVID-19 transmission rates in schools with three feet of social distancing. If the transmission rate is higher, she says, the schools might return to six feet of distancing.

Despite a full year of mandatory six foot social distancing guidelines, there still appears to be no scientific consensus about what distance is effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]





Star News Education Foundation Journalism Project

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