By Bria Brown

(AP) — U.S. health officials are relaxing social distancing recommendations for schools, saying students can sit as close as 3 feet apart in classrooms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, announced Friday, signal the agency’s turn away from the 6-foot distancing recommendation.

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The new guidelines advise at least 3 feet of space between desks in elementary schools, even in towns and cities where community spread is high, so long as students and teachers wear masks and take other precautions.

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It recommends 3 feet in middle and high schools, so long as there’s not a high level of spread in the community. If there is, spacing should be at least 6 feet.

The CDC says 6 feet should still be maintained in common areas, such as school lobbies, and when masks can’t be worn, such as when eating.

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