Three feet closer: Local superintendents speak about new student guidelines

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LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) —CDC social distancing guidelines are now allowing students to be three feet apart in classrooms.

Many school officials haven’t seen their students in a classroom for about a year. During that time, most students have been learning virtually.

That soon will change for some school districts as CDC guidelines have been relaxed. They are no longer restricting students to stay six feet apart from each other. Now, they are allowed to be three feet away.

For the Hazleton Area School District, the new guidelines are a game changer.

“That opens up an entirety of possibilities for us. We’re able to come back, it looks like we’re able to come back five days a week,” Hazleton Area School District Superintendent Brian Uplinger said.

The plan is for students to come back on April 12. Requiring less space between students can increase the number of pupils in one classroom.

“Within that six-feet parameter, we might be only getting 15 students in a classroom. Now that we’re down to three feet, we might be able to get 20 to 25 in a classroom,” Uplinger said.

But not all schools are fully returning to in-person learning. The Wyoming Area School District will use a hybrid learning schedule starting Tuesday.

“We have two groups. We have an “A” group and we have a “B” group, and they’re coming in on different days. So we’ll have about half of the student population there on one day which then allows us to have enough room in a classroom to continue to be six feet apart,” Wyoming Area School District Superintendent Janet Serino said. “It feels like new life. We’re bringing them back. School’s actually happening. Education is actually happening and I hope our children are actually as excited as we are.”

School officials say they’re excited to welcome students back. School officials say mask-wearing guidelines will remain in effect.

While students can now be three feet away, they must continue to be six feet away from teachers.

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