FORT WORTH, Texas - The CDC director told a Senate committee more studies will be published in the coming days showing three feet of distancing at schools is as effective as six feet with students who are wearing masks.
FOX News says a CDC official told them the CDC could announce changes to distancing guidance in schools as soon as Friday.
At least one North Texas teacher's union is reacting to changes with the social distance recommended for schools
The teacher’s union that represents thousands of Tarrant County educators is reacting to the looming changes with social distancing in schools by the CDC.
Its expected on Friday that the CDC will reduce the recommended distance from six feet to three feet, citing growing evidence that there is no greater risk for children at the smaller distance.
United Educators Association Executive Director Steven Poole predicts that most teachers, especially those who are vaccinated, will accept the distance reduction as long as face coverings are required.
"If the CDC says schools could operate in a three feet distance with mask wearing, I’m sure teachers would welcome that," he said. "But it’s the mask wearing and social distancing at work hand-in-hand."
Fort Worth, Dallas and Arlington ISDs have all indicated masks will continue to be a requirement.
Poole says differing opinions however are inevitable.
"If a school district chooses not to have masks and then wants to lower the social distancing, I’m sure there’s going to be quite a few teachers that have concerns and rightfully so."
Poole says as more students return to in-person classes, there simply is not enough space to keep everyone six feet apart. The new CDC guidelines, if followed properly, should help with accommodations in that regard.
"Actually, I really like the six-feet," Krissy Hraha said.
Hraha is the parent of a 16-year-old Plano ISD high schooler. Social distancing affects his jazz band classes.
"Now, it’s more just everyone’s laid out in a grid, so it’s definitely not the same," her son, Alex, said.
He’d welcome three-feet distancing.
"I think, overall, it would be better, even in classrooms, having more students be able to be in the classrooms," Alex added.
Some parents said they’ll roll with whatever the CDC decides.
"I’m going to follow the guidelines of the CDC, my family supports that," David Faidley said.
The CDC director said some evidence suggests three-feet of distancing is just as safe as six-feet when masks are properly worn.
"And there are now emerging studies on the question between three-feet and six-feet. I'm aware of several that will be released in the next several days and we are actively looking at our guidance to update it to address that science," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
Some teachers are conflicted.
"It’s hard to predict whether there might be another surge. There are just a lot of variables," said Andrew Kirk, who teaches 9th grade AP human geography at Dallas ISD’s Sunset High School.
Kirk is undecided, but could be on board with it, as long as it doesn’t convince some districts to ease other safety measures.
"Teachers and school personnel don’t feel that their districts are going to prioritize their health and safety," he explained.
It’s been a struggle of a school year for families.
"It’s been difficult. I mean, learning from home was definitely a transition for us, as is with all parents," Hraha said.
There are still millions of students in other states where remote learning has been their only option because their campuses have remained closed since last March.
But most major districts in Texas have offered in-person learning for much of the school year.
Plano ISD, for example, said 57% of students are currently learning face-to-face.
Hraha said her son’s grades slipped while learning at home, and that’s been a nationwide trend.
"He really needed that classroom environment to like succeed in school," she said.
Now that he’s successfully learning in-person, she hopes it continues to be done safely, whether that’s at six or three-feet distancing.
"It could be completely different by the next fall, right? We have to wait and see how the vaccine goes and if everybody’s getting it," Hraha added.