6 Feet or 3 Feet Apart? Why Reopening Schools Is Not So Easy.

6 Feet or 3 Feet Apart? Why Reopening Schools Is Not So Easy.

While the agency states that all schools can open safely with sufficient mitigation measures, and that the risk of transmission in schools is low when precautions were taken, the bright-line rules — like the requirement of six-foot distancing — seem to be all that most local decision makers can process, she said.

“When I was doing the Pennsylvania reporting, I heard about school board members and superintendents saying, ‘We were interested in reducing that 6-foot guidance’” — to get more children back in school full time — “‘but, look, the Biden administration is trusted, and they are saying now six feet is still the standard,’” Dana said.

“So even though there was some subtlety from the C.D.C., that’s not necessarily filtering down to local bureaucrats that have to make decisions.”

  • Another good read from The Times graphics team: Some experts thought the C.DC. guidelines were not specific enough about what schools should do to improve ventilation in classrooms. This simulation shows how an open window, a box fan and an air cleaner with a HEPA filter can significantly reduce the chances of transmission in a classroom.


A few years ago, students who had been accepted to the University of Chicago’s Class of 2020 received a note and a paperback book, called “Academic Freedom and the Modern University.” In the note, the dean of students wrote, “Once here you will discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression.”

He went on, “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

Class Disrupted

Updated March 2, 2021

The latest on how the pandemic is reshaping education.

The letter reflected the guiding principles of the university and its president, Robert J. Zimmer, who cared so much about free expression that he convened a faculty committee to report on it. Now Dr. Zimmer has announced that he is stepping down, effective Sept. 1.

Dr. Zimmer has served as president since 2006, overseeing the university’s rise from a place for iconoclasts — “where fun goes to die” — to a more widely popular school, with new name recognition, and rising numbers of applicants.

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