BALTIMORE (WJZ) — New CDC guidelines shorten COVID social distancing guidelines for kids in classrooms to now stay three feet apart with masks on instead of six feet.

Anne Arundel County school board officials met Tuesday to discuss the announcement.

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“I think the three feet distancing guidelines gives us a little bit of wiggle room,” George Arlotto, Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Schools, said.

During a virtual meeting, the school board discussed the new changes, which now says elementary school students can sit three feet apart inside classrooms with masks on regardless of community transmission.

It’s the same for middle and high school students except if community transmission is high.


“Because COVID-19 is spread more likely among older students, the CDC recommends that middle and high school students should be at least six feet apart in communities where COVID-19 risk is high,” Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, said.

The new guidelines say students must remain six feet apart when unmasked and students and adults must remain six ft apart at all times.

However, the guidelines do not increase school bus capacity.

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Anne Arundel County School officials say their biggest concern is with contact tracing.

“If there is a positive case and a student is three ft apart, you can likely have eight contacts to that positive case,” Arlotto said. “If they remain at the six feet, which I’m told they are, then that will significantly increase the number of students that will have to go into quarentine.”

Arlotto says, despite logistical challenges, the changes allow them to bring more students into some classrooms.

“We can add additional students and still be able to maintain what the CDC is recommending,” he said.

Some parents say they’re on board with the idea.

“I feel comfortable,” Ian Elestock said. “As long as they find a way to keep the kids separate and they are not all on top of each other.”

When it comes to making changes, school officials say they’re exploring options such as putting students in outside tents during lunch periods to keep them spaced out.

School officials plan on holding a second meeting to discuss more options.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner