Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan today added more than 3,700 COVID-19 cases amid concerns that the state has entered a third surge period.
Whitmer today in a press conference said she does not plan to tighten COVID-19 restrictions.
She noted ongoing vaccinations but also citing concerns about virus variants that more easily spread. ‘If we all take our own personal responsibility here, we can keep these things reengaged and do it safely,’ David Eggert reported for the AP.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its social distancing guidelines for schools Friday, saying students can now sit 3 feet apart in classrooms.
The revised COVID-19 recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has forced some schools to remove desks, stagger scheduling and take other steps to keep children away from one another.
Three feet “gives school districts greater flexibility to have more students in for a prolonged period of time,” said Kevin Quinn, director of maintenance and facilities at Mundelein High School in suburban Chicago.
In recent months, schools in some states have been disregarding the CDC guidelines, using 3 feet as their standard. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC’s community interventions task force.
While there is evidence of improved mental health and other benefits from in-person schooling, “we don’t really have the evidence that 6 feet is required in order to maintain low spread,” she said.
Also, younger children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it as much as adults do, and “that allows us that confidence that that 3 feet of physical distance is safe,” Massetti said.
The new guidance:
— Removes recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. “We don’t have a lot of evidence of their effectiveness” in preventing transmission, Massetti said.
— Advises at least 3 feet of space between desks in elementary schools, even in towns and cities where community spread is high, so long as students and teachers wear masks and take other precautions.
— Says spacing can also be 3 feet in middle and high schools, so long as there’s not a high level of spread in the community. If there is, spacing should be at least 6 feet.
The CDC said 6 feet of distance should still be maintained in common areas, such as school lobbies, and when masks can’t be worn, such as when eating.