Maine students can be spaced 3 feet apart in classrooms if they wear masks, DOE says

The Maine Department of Education released an updated framework on Tuesday with more guidance on safety protocol for inside school buildings.One of the mandates is that students and teachers are advised to be 3 feet apart when they are wearing masks, rather than 6 feet.WMTW News 8 asked Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah about this rule at Thursday’s coronavirus press conference.”The American Academy of Pediatrics took a hard look at the data and what they found is when this constellation of measures, face coverings coupled with all the other things that we have talked about, the added benefit of being six feet away on top of three feet away was not that significantly greater,” Shah said.Shah said it is only a recommendation, but such recommendation would open the door to having more children in a classroom at the same time. But some teachers are skeptical about how safe that would be.”As an educator, the 3-foot distancing model with masking all the time is not good practice,” said Amanda Cooper, who is the president of the Gorham Teachers Union.Cooper is especially worried about how the youngest children will respond. She favors a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning, which leads to having fewer students in a classroom.”A hybrid model where you only have half the students and you can maintain six foot distancing, you can actually remove the masks, as long as everyone is within their places, and spaced out accordingly, which would allow you to have a more normal teaching and learning experience, rather than masked all day,” Cooper said.The Maine CDC will start sending guidance to counties on how they should reopen schools based on coronavirus risk on July 31. Those recommendations will be updated every two weeks.

The Maine Department of Education released an updated framework on Tuesday with more guidance on safety protocol for inside school buildings.

One of the mandates is that students and teachers are advised to be 3 feet apart when they are wearing masks, rather than 6 feet.

Advertisement

WMTW News 8 asked Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah about this rule at Thursday’s coronavirus press conference.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics took a hard look at the data and what they found is when this constellation of measures, face coverings coupled with all the other things that we have talked about, the added benefit of being six feet away on top of three feet away was not that significantly greater,” Shah said.

Shah said it is only a recommendation, but such recommendation would open the door to having more children in a classroom at the same time. But some teachers are skeptical about how safe that would be.

“As an educator, the 3-foot distancing model with masking all the time is not good practice,” said Amanda Cooper, who is the president of the Gorham Teachers Union.

Cooper is especially worried about how the youngest children will respond. She favors a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning, which leads to having fewer students in a classroom.

“A hybrid model where you only have half the students and you can maintain six foot distancing, you can actually remove the masks, as long as everyone is within their places, and spaced out accordingly, which would allow you to have a more normal teaching and learning experience, rather than masked all day,” Cooper said.

WMTW-TV

The Maine CDC will start sending guidance to counties on how they should reopen schools based on coronavirus risk on July 31. Those recommendations will be updated every two weeks.