Fairfax County Public Schools says it is considering implementing 3 feet of social distancing between students in the fall, rather than 6 feet, as the school system faces mounting pressure to open full time.
"Here, right in our neighborhood, the D.C area, Fairfax County, which is one of the most well-funded, I would call it an elite public school system in America, offered families a so-called choice for this fall, either zero days in school for their students or two days. And their springtime attempt at distance learning was a disaster," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said.
FCPS says less social distancing might allow the students to attend school in-person for more than two days per week.
New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics says a distance of just 3 feet could be safe for children as long as they wear face masks.
"We have had evolving evidence in this space and continue to learn every single day," Dr. Nathaniel Beers, a pediatrician for Children's National Hospital, told News4.
Beers has reviewed several studies on social distancing and helped write the new guidance.
He says children are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 and that they need to be back in school.
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"We also know that kids learn from kids and kids grow up and experience life by developing together with other kids. And so the social, emotional losses of not being with their peers is substantial for kids," Beers said.
Some parents say they'd prefer to have their children in school.
"I want them with real teachers. I want them to get up, get dressed, go into a building, feel like they’re in school, and not just roll out of bed in their pajamas," said Andrew Edelstein. Her sons attend Lake Braddock Secondary School.
But others say they’re not so sure about going back to school, especially if there’s less social distancing.
"We definitely want to be able to be as safe as possible, not be ones who may transmit the disease and certainly not be ones who take it home," said Kimberly Adams, the president of the Fairfax Educational Association.