CDC says schools can now space students 3 feet apart, rather than 6

Jeevan Guha, 6, offers a view of pandemic-era schooling with this homemade sign in San Francisco. The sign reads, "I miss my school."
Jeevan Guha, 6, poses for a portrait near his homemade sign in San Francisco. His sign reads, "I miss my school."
Yalonda M. James | Hearst Newspapers via Getty

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for schools. On Friday, the agency announced it "now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings."

Previously the guidance stated, "Physical distancing (at least 6 feet) should be maximized to the greatest extent possible." The new guidelines still call for 6 feet of distance between adults and students, as well as in common areas, such as auditoriums, and when masks are off, such as while eating. And the 6-foot distancing rule still applies for the general public in settings such as grocery stores.

The change is momentous because in many places around the country, the 6-foot guidance has been interpreted as requiring schools to operate on part-time or hybrid schedules in order to reduce class sizes. A 3-foot rule would allow many more schools to open in person, full time.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.