Local reaction to new CDC guidelines for schools

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- New guidelines released by the CDC Friday could pave the way for more in-person learning.

On Friday, the CDC said three feet of social distancing is safe in some situations, but said there were several situations in which six feet should be maintained.

That includes secondary schools in communities were transmission rates are high.

Bensalem School District has an option for students to return to in-person learning for four days a week starting Monday.

Dr. Samuel Lee, the district's superintendent, says around 70% of elementary school students have opted for in-person learning.

He adds desks have already been spaced out three feet apart in some classrooms that needed to make space.

This effort is all to prepare for the return of more students.

Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite said this is great news to raise the occupancy in classrooms as more parents opt-in for in-person learning for their children.

"Ecstatic about that recommendation, and it will allow us, we think, to get more children back into some form of in-person learning at the elementary level," said Hite.

For parents like Amy Blumenthal, she is thrilled as she says this is great for her child in kindergarten who wants to interact with lots of other students.

"Right now, it's actually just my son and one other girl who are back, it's two kids, and I want it to feel normal for them," said Blumenthal.

Philadelphia schools are currently in the process of allowing parents to sign up their children for in-person learning two days a week, and spots are filling up.

"Schools have had many parents that are saying I selected digital before, but I want to change that to in person," said Hite.

But that has some teachers concerned, like Ginny Field, while she's vaccinated, the four children she teaches in person have not been.

"I would like to work with this number of students for a little bit longer and see where it goes maybe after the spring break," said Field, a kindergarten teacher at Loesche Elementary.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Union president said he'll be reviewing the studies that led to the CDC's change.

"We will follow the science," said Jerry Jordan, PFT's president.

A second-grade parent told Action News she's been keeping her son home throughout the pandemic because she didn't feel comfortable with six feet apart learning, let alone three.

"Sometimes I feel like the CDC is out of touch," said Maya McGeathey, a parent of a second-grade student at Lingelbach Elementary. "Enough, this is enough. Let's stop this madness, keep the kids home."

Bensalem's Cornwell's Elementary School expects around 75% of students to return to school for in-person learning on Monday, for their four days a week, in-person learning program.
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