When some local students return to school this fall in Northern Virginia, they may not be sitting very far apart.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines suggest students stay 3 feet apart in classrooms.
In Alexandria, Virginia, where students will have in-person learning for five days a week this fall, the protocols may not be possible to enforce. The school district is expecting most of its 16,000 students to be back in the classroom.
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings said some classrooms are too small to meet the CDC’s standard, but that doesn’t mean schools won’t be safe.
“We will still be able to provide all the health and safety mitigations. We will be sure that we are, you know, incorporating anything that we need to ensure the safety of our students and our staff,” Hutchings said.
Arlington County, which has 27,000 students, is saying something similar. Superintendent Francisco Duran said it would not be possible to follow the recommended guidelines in some schools.
“We cannot guarantee that we will be able to maintain 3 feet between students in every classroom,” Duran said.
Fairfax County Public Schools will decide how far kids will be apart closer to when school starts in August. However, in a statement, spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said the school system might face the same issues.
“Our schools will be socially distancing to the greatest extent possible, and we will continue to follow health and safety guidance to the greatest extent practicable,” Caldwell said.
All of this could be moot well before the August return-to-school date. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has indicated he may drop social distancing protocols in the commonwealth on June 15. The CDC may also update its school guidelines before school starts, as well.
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