All children should wear masks in school this fall, pediatrics group says

Coronavirus

High school students at school, wearing N95 Face masks.
Sitting in a classroom.

(WTRF)- Keeping masks on in school and urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are among several coordinated interventions recommended in the updated American Academy of Pediatrics interim guidance that strongly advocates for in-person learning during the 2021-’22 school year.

“Remote-learning highlighted inequities in education, was detrimental to the educational attainment of students of all ages, and exacerbated the mental health crisis among children and adolescents,” according to the guidance.

Given the evidence on low in-school transmission rates of SARS-CoV-2 with proper prevention measures and the availability of effective vaccines for those ages 12 years and older, “the benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks in almost all circumstances,” the guidance states.

Pediatricians should emphasize a layered approach that prioritizes attending school in person, while protecting students and staff from SARS-CoV-2 variants that may be more transmissible, said Sonja O’Leary, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee.

The AAP continues to recommend that all staff and students who are 2 years or older wear face masks unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit their use.

Universal masking serves multiple roles, according to Dr. O’Leary.

“As we start the 2021-’22 school year, a large portion of students are not eligible to be vaccinated and there are COVID variants that are more contagious. Because of this and because we want to have all students in school, the AAP advocates for all students, teachers and staff to wear masks while indoors in school,” she said.

The AAP also recommends that schools monitor in-person and virtual attendance daily and identify and support students at higher risk for absenteeism.

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