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School admins studying advised 3-foot distance within classroom spaces

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — School districts are still working out whether to shrink from six feet to three feet apart for social distancing in accordance with a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory that it’s safe enough for classrooms.
Monroe Schools Superintendent Justin Blasko cheered the CDC’s decision at last week’s school board meeting as it could allow full classrooms, but isn’t jumping to conclude it should be implemented this spring as students have already transitioned from online-only learning to going back into classrooms.
Some students are thriving online, parents have told Blasko. “Sometimes it’s best to leave that routine alone,” Blasko said while giving his thoughts.
With that said, “that shift to three feet should be the difference between (using) a cohort hybrid model” with half the class in the classroom “and planning to reopen schools in full” in the future, Blasko said.
On Thursday, the Snohomish School District published that it is reviewing its options.
The CDC’s formal recommendations released Friday, March 19 say middle school and high school students in communities experiencing low and moderate transmission risk can be three feet apart inside classrooms; the same students in communities where COVID-19 transmission is rampant should be seated six feet apart. It recommends all elementary students can be three feet apart inside classrooms even if the community is experiencing high community transmission.
As of last week, Western Washington’s virus reproductive level, known as the R-naught value, was around 1.3. The state’s desired benchmark is below 1.0. The reproductive level is a ratio on infection transmission: 1.0 means one infected person will likely infect one more person. Higher numbers are bad.
The six-foot rule would apply in school hallways and eating areas.
Adults should stay six feet apart under the CDC’s recommendation.
The CDC presumes masks are universally worn while setting these recommendations.
Gov. Jay Inslee essentially endorsed the CDC recommendations during a Thursday news conference.

Return plans
By this time next month, high schoolers will be back in classrooms statewide for part of the week.
For some, it’s coming sooner.
This week, the Snohomish School District brought back students in grades 7, 9 and 12 on a hybrid schedule. Students in grades 8, 10 and 11 return the week after spring break on Monday, April 12.
Monroe High students will return Wednesday, April 14 on an alternating schedule.
Everett Schools will have middle schoolers and high schoolers return to campus April 19.





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