American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said students, teachers, and office employees should wear masks to school regardless of vaccination status.
In contrast, the U.S. released recommendations opposing that guidance. These guidelines were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month: Those guidelines mandated that students and teachers who have been vaccinated should not be required to wear masks, while those who have not been vaccinated need to wear them to protect themselves.
Pediatricians’ Group: Keep Wearing Masks In Schools And On The Job
Teachers and parents cannot find out which teachers have been immunized from the CDC as it does not offer suggestions. Some middle school students are eligible for vaccinations while others are not, which will cause the biggest problem. When asked at the time, the CDC said administrators might decide to apply a masking policy to everyone if separating vaccine- and unvaccinated students wasn’t easy.
In Huntington, N.Y., Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital is home to Dr. Michael Grosso, chair of pediatrics. “Most of us do not like to wear a mask, so let’s just admit that,” he said. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, their new guidance is hard not to like. Children who have learning problems will benefit more from this. It’s important for their education, socialization, physical fitness, and mental growth, he explained.
Second, almost all schoolchildren are not yet immunized, and will likely remain unimmunized until studies are finished and vaccines can be administered to young children, Grosso continued. It will take some time. Right now, people in schools need to wear masks because unimmunized children need protection.
The chances of children getting severe COVID are lower than those of adults, however, they do have a risk for MIS-C, which affects 1 in 600 infected children and teens, Grosso said. “This multisystem inflammatory disease often necessitates pediatric intensive care,” he said, adding that it follows a primary infection by several weeks.
AAP’s latest guidance also recommends getting vaccinated against COVID-19 for all eligible people, strongly recommending in-person education, and advising schools to prepare for the mental health needs of students. Dr. Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said we need to ensure that children return to school with their friends and teachers in a safe environment.
In an American Academy of Pediatrics news release, Dr. O’Leary said that the pandemic has all but destroyed children’s lives and their education, not to mention their mental, emotional and physical health. Vaccinations, masks, and handwashing are all just a few of the layers of protection that will ensure in-person learning is safe and possible.
AAP advises students to use universal masks because a majority have not yet received vaccines, and masking has been shown to reduce transmission of the virus and protect those who have not been vaccinated. Many schools expect to be unable to monitor the vaccination status of students, teachers, and staff, and the virus will likely spread more quickly in communities with low vaccination rates.
AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee chairperson elect, Sara Bode, says many children and others cannot be vaccinated.
According to Bode, the masks have proven effective in reducing the risk of acquiring other respiratory diseases, as well. It will help create consistent expectations and messages among students without adding to their administrative challenges by requiring them to monitor everyone’s vaccination status, Bode explained.
As a general rule, AAP guidance simply replicates CDC recommendations for testing, cleaning, quarantining, and disinfecting school buildings. When taken consistently, safety precautions are highly effective, and if children miss out on in-school learning, they are more likely to suffer mental health issues and developmental setbacks. Vaccination of children, including the flu shot, is also essential, the AAP said.
In the wake of the pandemic, the last thing we would like to see is the outbreak of another disease that can be protected against with vaccination, said O’Leary.
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