Chico Unified school officials, parents react to new 3-foot social distancing rule

School officials and parents in Chico are reacting after the state of California said it is on board with the CDC guidance change that is relaxing physical distancing guidelines for children in schools to 3 feet of distance.

Posted: Mar 22, 2021 5:18 PM
Updated: Mar 22, 2021 5:18 PM

CHICO, Calif. - Social distance is shrinking at schools across the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday relaxed its physical distancing guidelines for children in schools to recommend most students maintain at least 3 feet of distance. It had previously said schools should try to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between children.

Over the weekend, California announced it is now on board with that CDC guidance change.

Third graders, Harrison Bamlet and Chance Hary are only going to school for two hours a day. They both said it is just not enough.

"It honestly makes me feel sad," Hary shared, "I would like to see school days, getting longer and longer."

Now that the state is shrinking social distancing, some parents, like Matt Thomason hope it will get kids back to the classroom faster.

"Especially with the new guidelines that have come out from the CDC for 3 feet spacing versus what we've been told before it's an ever-evolving thing that is just continually giving evidence that our kids can return to school now," Thomason said.

Action News Now spoke with Chico Unified School District board member, Matt Tennis, about the new change in guidance and why the board is choosing to continue with the split AM/PM model.

"It's totally incomprehensible," Tennis said. "There's no reason why we should remain closed at this point."

CUSD Assistant Superintendent for Education Services, Jay Marchant said,  "All I can tell you that we will be finding out how many more students now we can fit into the classrooms at three-foot, it makes it easier to put more kids in the classroom. I don't really want to speak for the board on making any decisions if we're going to go back full-time this year or not. We got together this morning to discuss our plans on what it would look like, for three-foot, with the furniture and spacing in the classrooms. So, right now, we are working on that. Obviously, that's a move in a positive direction of getting more kids in the classroom and making that transition a lot smoother."

Marchant said right now, the plan is to welcome students back to campus full-time next fall. School officials said it's too soon to tell if the new state guidance could change that.

The next Chico Unified School District board meeting is scheduled for April 7.

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