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Dr. Fauci explains why social distancing changed for students and not teachers at school

Updated: Mar. 21, 2021 at 9:10 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/NBC) - Dr. Anthony Fauci was on NBC’s Today Show talking about updated CDC guidance that three feet of physical distancing is safe in schools.

Half the social distancing guidance may have children back in school across the country soon.

The CDC on Friday relaxed its physical distancing guidelines for children in schools to recommend most students maintain at least three feet of distance. It had previously said schools should try to maintain at least six feet of distance between children.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Presidential Medical Advisor, said if children wear masks consistently and you compare that at three feet versus children that are six feet, there was no difference in the infection rate among them.

Fauci said for that reason, based on the scientific data and evidence, the CDC has modified its recommendation.

“So, now children, as long as they continue to wear masks, will be in school at three feet,” Fauci said. “That doesn’t mean from the teachers, because they still have to be six feet from the teachers, and the teachers still need to be six feet from each other. But the children, three feet from each other, is going to be okay from now on.”

At times when it’s not possible to accommodate masks, like when children are eating, the CDC says 6 feet of distance should be maintained. In middle schools and high schools where community transmission is high, the CDC advises students to stay 6 feet apart, if being in distinct groups is not possible.

As far as variants, Fauci also addressed that this weekend on the Today Show.

“There are a number of variants, but the one right now that is gaining momentum in our own country is the B.1.1.7, which is the ‘UK variant’ as they call it because it just happened to be first noticed in the UK,” Fauci said. “The good news about that is that the vaccines that we are distributing now, the three vaccines, work very well against that variant.”

Dr. Fauci says there is another variant in New York, the B.1.526, that’s of concern, but hopefully by maintaining public safety measures that will not become the dominant variant.

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