Three feet closer to normal: How Wis. schools are responding to CDC’s new guidance

The CDC now recommends 3 feet physical distancing in schools, down from 6 feet.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 10:26 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The CDC eased coronavirus-related guidance for schools, bringing the physical distancing recommendation down from 6 feet to 3 feet, for most students inside most classrooms.

But school districts across south-central Wisconsin have different answers for when desks will move closer together.

“It is a paradigm shift,” Vince Breunig, district administrator in the School District of Lodi, said. Lodi plans to expand in-person learning in April, to offer it four days a week.

“If you look at our classroom sizes now, we have 10, 11 students,” Breunig said. “We’re going to have 20 students or more in classrooms. That is a significant difference for our staff and for our students.”

That’s why Breunig said the reach of one COVID-19 case could be wider.

“If you’re still within close contact of somebody [with coronavirus] within 6 feet, you still will be quarantined out, isolated from school,” Breunig said. “My expectation is that more students will be quarantined out.”

Alyssa Feidt, a special education teacher in the Mt. Horeb district, said, “I really trust the CDC and the public health department. If they’re saying its safe, I feel more safe with that guidance.”

Friday, the Mt. Horeb Area School District addressed the CDC’s change on Facebook. The post said, in part: “... We are better prepared to institute a change in our Middle and High Schools’ schedules. Moving from 6′ of physical distancing to 3′ to the greatest extent possible permits their return to four full days per week, beginning Monday, April 19, 2021.”

Across the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, spokesperson Perry Hibner said, “We will try to provide as much physical distancing as possible in classrooms and on buses. Six feet will be challenging, especially at the middle and high school levels, where class sizes will likely increase into the 20s or 30s.” He added, health experts are continuing to stress that masks and hand hygiene are the “most crucial mitigation strategies.”

Spokesperson Tim Lemonds with the Madison Metropolitan School District wrote to NBC15, “MMSD will for the time being, continue keeping a six foot physical distance between individuals as the ideal distance to ensure the highest level of safety for students and staff.” But pointing to recent research and CDC guidance, Lemonds continued, “MMSD will allow some distance flexibility when circumstances do not permit six feet.”

Mineral Point and Janesville school districts said they are waiting on guidance from state and respective county health officials.

Meanwhile, Rock Co. Public Health Department said it is waiting for the Department of Health Services to evaluate the CDC guidance and share its response. DHS officials did not respond to NBC15′s request for comment Friday afternoon.

Copyright 2021 WMTV. All rights reserved.