GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Friday, The US Centers for Disease Control changed physical distancing guidelines for elementary school kids. The new rules say three feet apart effectively keep elementary school kids safe in the classroom, down from the original six-foot requirement.

The CDC said everyone still needs to wear a mask, and when classrooms interact with other groups or go to common areas, the six-feet-rule is in play. Federal officials still recommend six feet of distance in places like lobbies and auditoriums and during activities like singing, band, or sports.

Keeping second graders apart during this pandemic became one of the toughest parts of Janet Werbach's job. She teaches at The Traditional Academy at Bellair.

"Whenever we line up, their tendency is to get close to each other because they want to talk to each other and have connections with each other," said Werbach. "We're constantly telling them to backup, leave more space between you, whenever we're going any place or whenever they're playing outside."

However small the new change is, Mesa parent Emily Keeler thinks it may help.

"You can fit a lot more people into an area if you have only three feet limitations," said Keeler. "More kids can interact."

She believes students will get a better education with the change.

"You're closer to the teacher," said Keeler. "I mean, having everybody spread out six feet, it's hard for the kids who are further back to see, to hear, everything. Anything closer to the teacher, closer to each other, helps collaboration, helps learning, all kinds of things, so I'm grateful for it."

Werbach calls the guidance good news for teachers tasked with keeping students safe.

"It's really challenging when we want to do reading groups to keep them apart, so I can only pull a few kids back at a time, so they're not close to each other but still get in the lessons that they need," said Werbach.

 

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