The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly urged Monday that everyone inside schools wear face masks during in-person classes for the upcoming school year, including vaccinated students and teachers. The largest association of pediatricians in the country also recommended people who areeligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As stated in a news release published by the pediatrics group, the AAP also amplifies the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for building ventilation, testing, quarantining, cleaning and disinfection in the updated guidance.
“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,” said Sonja O’Leary, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on School Health.
“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, ” added O´Leary.
The AAP strongly recommends in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year and urges all who are eligible to be vaccinated to protect against COVID-19. Read more here: https://t.co/58L7GpE1JK pic.twitter.com/0BnvqVFpbh
— American Academy of Pediatrics (@AmerAcadPeds) July 19, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended on July 9 that fully vaccinated students and teachers did not need to wear masks in the classroom. Now, these updated recommendations from the AAP on wearing face masks represent a significant change when considering the students and teachers safety.
AAP recommends face masks because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines, and masking is proven to reduce transmission of the virus and to protect those who are not vaccinated.
Recently, COVID-19 variants have emerged that may increase the risk of transmission and result in worsening illness. Given the effectiveness of safety precautions when used consistently, children are at higher risk of suffering mental health issues and developmental setbacks if they miss out on in-school learning.
“There are many children and others who cannot be vaccinated,” said Sara Bode, MD, FAAP, chair-person elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee. “This is why it’s important to use every tool in our toolkit to safeguard children from COVID-19.”
Bode underlined the protective function of face masks. “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.”