The American Academy of Pediatrics released updated guidelines for schools on Monday, recommending that all students over the age of 2, as well as staff, wear face masks, whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID. -19.
The new AAP guidelines come less than two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their own recommendations, calling for an indoor mask to be worn for not vaccinated students 2 and over, as well as staff. (Children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination.) The CDC notes, however, that schools may find universal masking necessary in areas with low vaccination rates, increasing community transmission, or a number. other reasons.
Both sets of guidelines aim to bring students back into the classroom.
“Given what we know about low transmission rates in schools when appropriate prevention measures are used, as well as the availability of effective vaccines for ages 12 and older,” says the AAP, “the benefits in-person school outweighs the risk in almost all circumstances. “
Despite these recommendations, many schools will not be able to require masks for the next school year. South Carolina, for example, has banned districts from imposing masks on students or staff. In Texas, districts cannot force anyone, including parents and other visitors, to wear masks. Meanwhile, other states demand the opposite: in Washington, schools must mandate to wear masks or face covers indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
In its guidelines, the AAP says it recommends universal masking because applying masking only to unvaccinated students and tracking the immunization status of students and staff could be difficult for schools to do. The organization also notes that wearing the mask protects unvaccinated people and could reduce the transmission of other respiratory illnesses that tend to keep students and staff sick at home. The guidelines provide exceptions for students and staff with developmental or medical issues that make it difficult to wear a mask.
The AAP guidelines state that all eligible people should be vaccinated and “it may become necessary for schools to collect information about the COVID-19 vaccine from staff and students and for schools to require COVID vaccination. -19 for in-person learning “.
As of Sunday, about 38% of 16 to 17 year olds were fully immunized, according to CDC data, and 26% of 12 to 15 year olds were.
The AAP recommendations come as COVID-19 cases increase across the country in what the CDC chief has called an “unvaccinated pandemic.”