Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins welcomed the updated guidance announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on school reopenings today that is based on the latest data. The new guidelines recommend spacing students three feet apart—down from the previous six feet—for in-person learning. For months, there has been a growing consensus among public health experts that three feet of spacing, coupled with other precautions such as wearing masks, is effective at preventing outbreaks of COVID-19. Local officials look to the CDC for advice on school reopenings, which is why it is so important for the guidance to be up to date. The reduced spacing requirements can help more students return to the classroom.
Senator Collins, a member of the Health Committee, has repeatedly called on the CDC to review its recommendations in light of the overwhelming evidence supporting three feet of spacing between students. At a hearing with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky yesterday, Senator Collins stressed the urgency of updating the CDC’s guidance for school reopenings in order to address the consequences of prolonged remote learning. Studies have shown that students’ social isolation over the past year has resulted in harm to their academics, social development, and behavioral and mental health.
“For too long, the CDC’s school reopening guidance was at odds with what numerous public health experts were recommending, preventing many students from being able to return to the classroom,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that the CDC has finally caught up with the science on school reopenings and has released updated guidelines that reflect the evidence on classroom spacing. Once we are able to fully reopen our schools, we can reverse the alarming declines in academic achievement, literacy, and social and emotional health. These new recommendations will help more school districts restore in-person learning while keeping students, teachers, and staff safe.”
Senator Collins called on public health officials to revisit the spacing requirements in previous hearings with the Director of the CDC, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Assistant Secretary of HHS, and public health experts.