The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new COVID-19 guidance for students returning to classrooms for the 2021-2022 school year.
The group of physicians is recommending that all children age 2 and older should wear a mask in school, no matter their vaccination status, CNN reported.
The announcement came Monday and takes a stricter stance than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said in early July that masks were needed for individuals age 2 and older who were not fully vaccinated. For those who are fully vaccinated, they “can resume activities they did before the pandemic,” except where state, local or even workplace laws and guidance supersede the CDC’s decision.
“The AAP believes that, at this point in the pandemic, given what we know about the low rates of in-school transmission when proper prevention measures are used, together with the availability of effective vaccines for those age 12 years and up, that the benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks in all circumstances,” the AAP said in its guidance, CNN reported.
Not all adults agree that children should wear masks in school.
Protestors demonstrated against mandatory masks for students in Hartford, Connecticut, last week, the Hartford Courant reported. Some who were speaking out said that the choice of whether masks are worn in schools should be made by the parents of the students, not required by school administrators.
Some parents believe that wearing the masks all day, with a couple of short, unmasked breaks, is too much for their children, the newspaper reported.
Some also believe that the masks restrict breathing and bring social and emotional stigma, the newspaper reported.
The AAP said the reason behind suggesting masks be worn at schools is that many students are not eligible for the vaccine, which is only approved for children 12 and older. The AAP also said that masks protect those who are not vaccinated and lessen the risk of transmission of COVID-19. There could also be issues monitoring and enforcing mask policies for those who are not vaccinated, CNN reported.
So far, according to the AAP, 8.8 million children under the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine while 6.8 million children are considered fully vaccinated.
There are nearly 72.8 million children under the age of 18 in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census.
This also comes at a time when there has been an uptick in cases of the Delta variant, and other variants could present a challenge, NBC News reported.
In addition to the wearing of masks, the AAP also says that schools should use ventilation, testing, quarantining, cleaning and disinfection to lessen the risk of spreading the coronavirus, CNN reported.
The group called it a layered approach, NBC News reported.
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