After returning to school, a girl watches as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are lifted on March 8, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Hannah Beier | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working on updated Covid-19 guidelines for schools that could reduce social distancing recommendations from 6 feet to 3 feet, said director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told lawmakers on Wednesday.
"As soon as our guide came out, it became very clear that 6 feet was one of the things that kept schools closed and that is where science evolves," Walensky told the House Committee on Energy and Trade's Subcommittee on Oversight and Inquiry aus held a hearing to increase Covid-19 vaccinations.
"There was a study published late last week in Massachusetts that showed that wearing masks is generally 100% safe, that 3 feet is actually safe," she said. The agency is currently reviewing several other unpublished studies on shorter social distancing guidelines while revising its own recommendations, she said.
Walensky, who said she herself homeschooled her three children during the pandemic, said the CDC was still "actively engaged in these additional studies."
"We're trying to update our instructions," said Walensky, adding, "I'm all with you as we have to get our children back (to school)."
The new study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, compared infection rates of Covid-19 in Massachusetts public schools with different physical distancing requirements. Research suggests that 3 feet can be as safe as 6 feet with everyone masked.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease officer and chief medical officer to President Joe Biden, was asked about the study on Sunday.
"What the CDC wants to do is they want to collect data, and if the data shows there is an ability to be 3 feet, they will act on it," Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper. "I can assure you that, within a reasonable time, they will, quite reasonably, issue guidelines that are consistent with the data they have."