Students at K-12 schools in the US should maintain a distance of 3 feet in classrooms if they are wearing masks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday.

While the new guidance is an update from the previous 6 feet mandate, students should still follow the old guidance if the transmission is high in their communities.

“This recommendation is because COVID-19 transmission dynamics are different in older students – that is, they are more likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and spread it than younger children,” it said in a statement.

Mask use remains universal, and other prevention measures must be taken, it added.

“These updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in the statement.

CDC continued to recommend at least 6 feet of distance between adults and students in school buildings in common areas such as school lobbies and auditoriums, and during when masks cannot be worn such as when eating.

Activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing, shouting, band practice, sports, or exercise, should be moved outdoors or to large and well-ventilated spaces whenever possible.

President Joe Biden earlier this month directed all states to prioritize K–12 teachers, school staff and childcare workers for COVID-19 vaccination.

Out of 154 million distributed doses in the US, 118 million have been administered as of early Friday. But so far, only 41.9 million people, or 12.6% of the US population, have gotten two doses, according to the CDC.

More than 29.6 million cases have been recorded in the US since the start of the pandemic, with almost 540,000 deaths, according to Maryland’s Johns Hopkins University.

Global cases have topped 122 million, while almost 2.7 million have lost their lives.

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