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Virologist explains why distancing alone won’t protect students, teachers

Some teachers’ unions have claimed they can’t go back to the classroom because there’s not enough room for students to stay six feet apart. But virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen tells KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula that social distancing alone won’t prevent kids or teachers from catching COVID-19.

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Dr. Rasmussen says that with students and teachers in an enclosed room for an extended period of time, staying three or six feet apart can’t be the only mitigation measure in place.

“If you’re there for a prolonged period of time, like that would be required to be in class, then that three feet versus six feet isn’t going to matter so much,” she said. “What people need to be thinking about is not so much three versus six feet, they need to be thinking about other mitigation measures that reduce that risk in general.”

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Rasmussen says layering on other precautions is more important, including making sure that everyone is wearing a mask during class, making sure teachers are vaccinated, and ensuring good ventilation.

“Distance is not the only mitigation measure we need to be applying. If you layer on enough protections, you’ll get that risk down to be almost nothing,” she said.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report. Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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