Apr. 16—Marietta City Schools will modify some of its coronavirus safety protocols this spring, Superintendent Grant Rivera told parents in an email Friday.
Rivera said the changes were decided after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for schools in March and after conversations with the CDC team the district had partnered with when it studied school-based transmission of the virus.
Effective immediately, students will only have to keep three feet apart indoors and, when socializing outside, will only have to wear a mask when standing within three feet of each other. Previous social-distancing guidelines recommended that students stay six feet apart when indoors and wear masks when within six feet of each other outdoors.
"While I acknowledge many MCS classrooms never came close to six feet of separation, this recommendation did impact small-group instruction and rug time (particularly in elementary schools) and some secondary classrooms," Rivera wrote in his email, referring to the six feet rule. "Teachers and counselors will continue to seek three feet of distancing, when possible, in classrooms."
On April 26, teachers will have discretion in removing or keeping students' desk shields when those students are seated in the same direction.
The CDC's March 19 update removed the recommendation for physical barriers between students.
"This guidance was a bit ambiguous so I sought further clarification through the MCS-CDC partnership referenced above. Put simply, we don't know the degree to which classroom desk shields help prevent school-based COVID transmission; however, we know they don't hurt."
Although they "don't hurt," they can complicate things for teachers, Rivera added, making it harder for students to see the front of the classroom, for example.
Teachers will not be allowed to remove desk shields when students are seated such that they are facing each other.