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One-metre distance likely enough in some classroom situations: Dr. Henry

And keep the messaging simple: 'It’s got to be air hugs and high fives,' said the Provincial Health Officer with less than a week before the official start of the school year.
12-year-old in an elementary classroom
12-year-old in an elementary classroom

The two-metres physical distancing rule-of-thumb to stem the transmission for COVID-19 might not always be necessary for students in a controlled classroom setting, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. 

In response to questions from the press Thursday, Sept. 3, Dr. Henry said one metre could be enough in situations where students sit in rows of desks or tables, all facing in the same direction or away from each other.

“I’m saying it’s a gradation: two metres is better than one metre is better than zero,” said Dr. Henry.

But that is in the context of other measures in place in schools, like not going in if a student is not feeling well. In other words, if there’s nobody sick within your environment, there’s no risk.

And while this gradation of risk applies to office workers sitting in small “pods,” it does not apply to social situations like private parties, where people talk close to one another in an indoor setting.

“If you’re going to be face-to-face then, absolutely, we need that two metres. But if we’re going to be in rows next to each other, then it’s going to be somewhere in between… it’s perfectly safe,” she said.

In the case of young children, the messaging is more focused on avoiding touching when they return to class than maintaining a specific distance.

“It’s got to be air hugs and air fives,” said Dr. Henry.

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