Students can distance less in schools if masked, researchers say

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As more children resume in-person learning, recent research indicates they can get closer together than originally advised.

The study found that three feet instead of six feet apart was safe... when all the kids have on masks.

The current CDC guidance is expected to change to reflect the study, reducing distance between students by half.

“It’s fantastic news, it was a systematic assessment they did in Massachusetts,” said Dr. David Kimberlin, a pediatric expert at UAB and Children’s Hospital.

Half a million students and 100,000 teachers were watched for 16 weeks.

“An important part of all this is that all the students wore masks,” he noted.

Some school districts have said they will not require masks after the Alabama mandate ends April 9.

“I strongly recommend that people wear masks even after the mask mandate ends, we know masks decrease the amount of virus in the community,” said Dr. Kimberlin.

Allowing students to be three feet apart instead of six feet apart though, will allow for a greater sense of normalcy in the classroom.

“Once enough people are vaccinated, we can really start to think about taking masks off,” said Dr. Kimberlin.

519 COVID cases were reported this past week in Alabama public schools.

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