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The CDC now says students can sit 3 feet apart in the classroom. Here's what it means for Houston-area schools

From decreasing the distance between desks to removing the recommendation for plastic barriers, the CDC cites more data, research for the update to its guidance.

HOUSTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released relaxed COVID-19 safety recommendations for K-12 schools. The recommended distance between students in the classroom decreased from 6 feet to 3 feet. Nationally, this is a significant announcement as schools in several states have yet to return to in-person learning.

Here in Texas, classrooms opened up last fall.

The CDC cites new data and more research for the updated recommendations. Students can safely sit 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as students correctly wear face masks. The CDC continues to recommend 6 feet of social distance during sporting events and assemblies, while students eat and during choir practice.

KHOU 11 reached out to Houston-area school districts for a reaction to the change in guidance, but a number of districts were unavailable because students and staff are off for Spring Break. However, Galveston ISD, which is using YouTube to walk students and parents through COVID-19 safety protocols, e-mailed a statement to KHOU 11:

"We currently work to achieve a 6 foot distance between desks in the classroom. This has been our protocol since the first day of school. We are aware that the CDC is now saying that 3 feet is adequate and our COVID team will discuss this new recommendation next week when we return from spring break. We routinely meet and make adjustments to our Returning to Learning plan as new information presents itself. - Billy Rudolph, Director of Communications & Marketing Galveston ISD"

The CDC also released research which shows there isn’t enough evidence for schools to continue using plastic shields or other barriers between desks. So that recommendation was removed from the CDC’s guidance for K-12 schools.

Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend at least 3 feet between desks.

Some school districts like Klein ISD try their best to distance students. On its website, Klein ISD details of how its facilities team looks at every classroom space to determine the best way to create social distancing, including rearranging desks based on student capacity and square footage.

Last September, KHOU 11 confirmed Houston ISD was considering 3 feet between desks. HISD parent Carly Walker told KHOU 11 reporter Jason Miles then, "I think that would have a huge impact on sending people in-person or not because a lot of people are thinking of that 10 to 12 student ratio in a class – certainly not 20.”

RELATED: Houston ISD may reduce desk distance in some cases when on-campus learning resumes

In the spirit of transparency, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Katy ISD released a series of videos earlier this year. They show parents all of the steps taken to disinfect classrooms. The CDC still believes daily cleaning, hand washing, physical distancing, masks and contact tracing slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

But off campus, principals are at the mercy of parents. School administrators are pleading with students and their families to avoid large gatherings and parties in this pandemic.