Whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, all students are recommended to wear a mask in school when they return to in-person classes, according to new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In a statement released Monday, the AAP emphasized following a "layered approach" when schools re-open this fall season. The pediatric group also said that the adult school staff should wear masks, regardless if they completed their vaccinations.
AAP chairman of Council on School Health Sonja O'Leary said education facilities across the U.S. should make in-person learning "safe and possible for everyone," thus the universal masking policy recommendation. It is a slight deviation from the policy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that children who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask in school indoors.
O'Leary said that it would not be easy for the school to determine who could potentially spread the virus, especially the emerging new variants that have made the kids more vulnerable.
"A large portion of students are not eligible to be vaccinated and there are COVID variants that are more contagious," the chairperson said.
A Sensible Guidance
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview on CNN that the AAP guidance makes sense and that the group has carefully analyzed the situation in schools. The director agreed that taking the extra mile ensures that virus transmission will be limited.
Even without the recommendation, Los Angeles has gone ahead and reinstated its face mask mandate for all residents with the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. However, several schools across the country have issued legislatures or executive orders disallowing wearing masks in school.
In Utah and Iowa, the law will only allow schools to implement face masks in case of an outbreak and in conjunction with local health departments. Governors in Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina have also signed orders limiting the use of face masks and preventing schools from issuing their own mandates.
On May 11, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has asked the state's Department of Education to develop a standardized form for parents or guardians to sign if they want their children not to wear a face mask.
Long-Term Effects of Mask-Wearing
It comes as a German study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that school children could breathe higher levels of carbon dioxide because of consistent wearing of face masks. However, Dr. David Cornfield of the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Stanford said that he doesn't personally think that this will have a long-term effect on the children.
However, some parents believe that a school mask may negatively impact learning, especially for kids with special needs. Other parents said that it would be impractical and unrealistic to expect younger and unvaccinated kids to wear their face coverings in school at all times as they will fidget or play with their masks.
Related Article: Families With Unvaccinated Children Try To Navigate COVID-19
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