BACK TO SCHOOL

American Academy Of Pediatrics Recommends Masks In Schools For Everyone Over 2, Regardless Of Vaccinations

Jul 19, 2021, 6:11 PM | Updated: 8:46 pm

(CNN) — The American Academy of Pediatrics released new COVID-19 guidance for schools on Monday that supports in-person learning and recommends universal masking in school of everyone over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status — a stricter position than that taken this month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The AAP believes that, at this point in the pandemic, given what we know about 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 guidance says.

One of the main interventions put forward by the AAP is that all students over the age of two and all school staff should wear masks at school unless they have a medical or developmental condition that prohibits this.

Reasons for this recommendation include but are not limited to: a significant proportion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccination; masking protects those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and reduces transmission; and potential difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies for those who are not vaccinated.

“There are many children and others who cannot be vaccinated,” Dr. Sara Bode, chair-elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee, said Monday in a statement.

“This is why it’s important to use every tool in our toolkit to safeguard children from COVID-19. Universal masking is one of those tools, and has been proven effective in protecting people against other respiratory diseases, as well. It’s also the most effective strategy to create consistent messages and expectations among students without the added burden of needing to monitor everyone’s vaccination status.”

“We know that masking works in this age group especially,” said Dr. Neal Davis, a pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare.

Davis said Utah learned a lot about mask wearing during the 2020-2021 school year.

“Kids did great. They knocked it out of the park and they can do it again, and so it seems to be a common sense approach to make sure we don’t get a significant relapse, particularly with the Delta variant,” he said.

He welcomed the mask-wearing recommendation from AAP.

“I get it. It’s been a tough year and a half for everybody, and yet this is something we know that works,” said Davis. “It protects children and it protects our community from having to go backwards.”

The AAP’s recommendation on universal masking is different from guidance by CDC, which also prioritized in-person learning but advised that fully vaccinated students, teachers and staff don’t need to wear masks at school.

AAP’s more cautious mask guidance is understandable, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“When you have a degree of viral dynamics in the community and you have a substantial proportion of the population that is unvaccinated, you really want to go the extra step, the extra mile, to make sure that there is not a lot of transmission, even breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals,” Fauci told CNN on Monday.

The differing guidance could cause some confusion, Fauci acknowledged while noting the CDC’s guidance allows for local states, cities and other agencies to make their own judgments.

“I think that the American Academy of Pediatrics (is) a thoughtful group. They analyze the situation, and if they feel that that’s the way to go, I think that is a reasonable thing to do,” he said.

AAP and CDC align on need for in-person school

Aside from the masking guidance, the AAP and CDC agreed on the importance of in-person learning.

And the AAP “amplifies” the CDC’s other recommendations on ventilation, testing, quarantining, cleaning and disinfection, the pediatrics group said in its statement.

The AAP also recommended that all eligible individuals get vaccinated; that adequate and timely testing resources are available; and that strategies that are developed can be revised and adapted depending on the situation in the community.

“With the above principles in mind, the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school COVID-19 plans should start with a goal of keeping students safe and physically present in school,” the guidance says. “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in 2020.”

The discussion about masking and other COVID-19 protections on campus comes just weeks before some schools in the South are set to reopen for the school year.

When COVID-19 hit US shores last spring, most schools shut down in-person learning and moved to teaching online. But remote learning has highlighted inequities in education, hurt education for students of all ages and exacerbated a mental health crisis among children and adolescents.

“We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers — and we all play a role in making sure it happens safely,” Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said in the Monday statement.

“The pandemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on children, and it’s not just their education that has suffered but their mental, emotional and physical health. Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”


KSL-TV’s Ladd Egan contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Back to School

remote learning after snow storm...
Katija Stjepovic, KSL TV

Canyons School District quickly switched to remote learning after Friday’s snowstorm

Friday’s early morning storm impacted multiple school districts across the Wasatch Front. Several districts adjusted start times and some even canceled classes.
2 months ago
This week KSL+ looks at what school districts describe as “chronic absenteeism” in Utah’s sch...
Matt Rascon

KSL+: The Impact of pandemic and “chronic absenteeism” in Utah schools

Months into the new school year, the pandemic’s impact on students is coming into focus.
3 months ago
A school classroom with chairs and desks...
Brooke Williams

Project to provide air purifiers in Utah K-12 classrooms

Cleaner air improves student performance, decreases COVID transmission and school absenteeism. New project provides air purifiers for classrooms in Utah.
5 months ago
...
Deanie Wimmer

Chronic Absenteeism leads to rise in F grades in most of Utah’s largest school districts

Schools all over Utah are dealing with the problem of chronic absenteeism. Educators are seeing thousands of absences, and as a result, failing grades.
5 months ago
Box Elder High School (KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

In excessive heat, some districts without A/C move to half days to spare students

With record-breaking, three-digit temperatures and older schools without air conditioning, two districts and one additional high school have announced changes to a half-day schedule to accommodate students.
5 months ago
...
Shara Park

Taylorsville High Wellness Center sees more students in need of basic items

Taylorsville High created a wellness center to give kids a break, however over the course of the year staff saw an increasing need for basic supplies like food, clothing, and hygiene products.
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
American Academy Of Pediatrics Recommends Masks In Schools For Everyone Over 2, Regardless Of Vaccinations