MD adopts updated CDC guidelines with three feet social distancing in schools

Posted at 3:22 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 15:22:12-04

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland is adopting new guidelines from the CDC recommending that, with universal masking in place, students should maintain a distance of at least three feet in classroom settings.

“Every single Maryland student must have the opportunity to return to attending school in some form or fashion, and this updated CDC guidance is another step in the right direction,” said Governor Hogan. “The time has come to give our kids a chance to get back in the classroom, and to open all of the schools.”

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon and Deputy Public Health Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan issued a letter notifying school systems of the update to the state’s guidance:

“In accordance with the CDC guidance, schools should allow for students, while in the classroom, to maintain 3 ft distance between each other. This updated guidance is the result of numerous and robust academic studies finding that 3 ft of distance between students did not significantly impact transmission of COVID-19 when compared to the earlier 6 ft distancing guidance. Adults should continue to maintain 6 ft distance from students and other adults.

“This updated guidance and the continued low rate of cases in schools should empower all Maryland schools to bring more students back into the classroom and/or give students the opportunity to receive in-person instruction more frequently before the end of the school year. In accordance with the CDC guidance, schools should implement phased prevention strategies with an emphasis on prioritizing in-person learning.”

State officials have taken a series of steps to provide substantial funding and support for school re-openings:

  • A total of more than $1.2 billion in federal funding has been made available to school systems. In addition, the governor has submitted a FY22 budget that exceeds statutory funding formulas to ensure that every jurisdiction receives more direct education aid than in the prior year.
  • The Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland State Department of Education have launched a program to provide up to 1 million COVID-19 tests for both public and non-public schools.
  • Maryland was one of the first states to prioritize teachers, and education staff to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • The state has provided school systems with 2 million masks and 200,000 face shields, as well as hand sanitizer, gloves, and gowns.
  • Epidemiologists from the Maryland Department of Health maintain a dashboard that tracks outbreak-associated cases in schools.