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Masks, hygiene and ventilation are allowing schools to open with 3 feet between students, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scott Steepleton, Editor
8:56 am PDT March 20, 2021

While science has shown schools around the country can safely reopen with as little as 3 feet between students, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is waiting for local guidance before adopting new recommendations allowing just that by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, the CDC said, with masking and other protocols in place, 3 feet instead of 6 is safe distancing for most K-12 classrooms.

However, parents in Malibu will have to wait for any such changes that more resemble “normal school.”

The same day the CDC revised its recommendations, district Superintendent Ben Drati issued a statement saying, “we would be acting illegally if we were to violate the state and local directives” recommending 6 feet.

“We are obligated to follow the guidelines set by the California Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health,” Drati said, adding the county says it needs to examine the new CDC guidance and would most likely take a few weeks to do so.

“That’s their language, not ours,” Drati said.

The CDC stresses its new recommendation is not for everyone, saying schools should determine “in collaboration with state and local health officials to the extent possible” whether and how to implement each of these considerations.

The agency also encourages districts “to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community.”

With the return to school from spring break on April 12, Drati said, “our government agencies have ample time to engage in this process without affecting our return to in-person instruction.”

However they rule, he continued, “we are preparing now so that our schools are ready for any reduction of physical distancing requirements.

“We will be ready to adjust quickly to any change in the guidance we are required to follow.”