The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday recommended that all children over the age of 2 wear masks when they return to school this year, regardless of their immunization status.
The AAP, which has said it is important for children to return to in-person learning this year, recommends that school staff also wear masks. The AAP calls the new guidelines a “layered approach”.
“We need to prioritize getting kids back to school alongside their friends and teachers – and we all play a role in making sure it’s safe,” said Sonja O’Leary, President of the AAP Council on School Health. “The combination of protective layers that include vaccinations, masking and clean hand hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”
The AAP said universal masking is necessary because a large portion of the student body is unvaccinated, and it is difficult for schools to determine who is as new variants emerge that could more easily spread among children.
Children 12 and older are eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations in the United States And the FDA said last week that emergency clearance for vaccines for children under 12 could arrive from early to mid-winter.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, told CNN on Monday that the guidelines made sense.
“When you have some degree of viral momentum in the community and a substantial proportion of the population is unvaccinated, you really want to go the extra step, the extra effort to make sure there isn’t a lot of transmission, even breakthrough infections in those vaccinated, ”he said.
“I think the American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, it’s a thoughtful group, they analyze the situation and if they think that’s the way to go, I think it’s a reasonable thing to do. “, added Fauci.
Universal masking will also protect students and staff from other respiratory illnesses that could prevent children from going to school, the AAP said.
The AAP also said campers should wear masks during indoor activities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this month that vaccinated students should not wear masks in classrooms.
Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told MSNBC that the CDC may have tried to be a little more lenient, allowing people to make judgments “depending on the circumstances of your school and your location. community”.
But he said he understands where the AAP comes from.
“They won’t be popular with parents and kids who are fed up with masks, but you know what? The virus doesn’t care if we are fed up with masks,” Collins said. “The virus has another version of its wonderful party for itself. And to the extent that we can crush it by doing something that is maybe a little uncomfortable, a little awkward… if it looks like it’s okay. help, put on the mask again for a while. “
What has not changed is an orientation for children under 2 years old, which says it’s dangerous for newborns and infants to wear masks because they can pose a choking hazard, and babies and toddlers may try to remove them, actually increasing their chances of ‘catch the virus.
All children should keep abreast of vaccines they may have missed amid the pandemic, such as the flu shot, the AAP said.
“The last thing we want out of this pandemic is an outbreak of another vaccine-preventable disease,” O’Leary said. “Now is the time for all of us to work together to keep our children safe and healthy. “