American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks for all in school

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ face mask guidelines differ from the updated school recommendations the CDC recently announced.

WASHINGTON — As the nation gears up to send children back to school in the fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines Monday on how to safely return to the classroom. One of the top recommendations may be requiring COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine-resistant ones, and masks for anyone over the age of two, including those who have been fully vaccinated.

The recommendations differ from those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which earlier this month updated their recommendations to say vaccinated students and staff should not wear masks in school. The CDC also does not advise schools to require shots for vaccine-eligible teachers and students.

The AAP didn’t go as far as recommending a vaccine, but said it may become necessary for school districts to do so in the future.

“It is critical to develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission and test positivity across the community and schools,” the recommendations outline, “recognizing the differences between school districts, including urban, suburban and rural areas.”

As of now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine only has emergency clearance from the FDA for people ages 12 and older.

One of the main reasons the AAP is recommending masks for everyone in schools this fall is because so many students are under the age of 12 and therefore ineligible for vaccination. The AAP says this aspect, combined with the difficulty of being able to monitor and track who has and who has not been vaccinated, and possible hesitation about vaccines are all reasons why everyone, not just the unvaccinated, should wear face coverings in schools.

The main theme of the AAP’s recommendations on Monday was clear.

“Everything possible should be done to keep students personally in schools,” the recommendations emphasize, citing the disparities highlighted by virtual learning alone. “The benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks in almost all circumstances.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in the US increased by 17,000 across the country for the first time since late fall last week over a 14-day period, and historically, an increase in deaths follows a peak in illness.

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