CDC joins American Academy of Pediatrics in recommending masks in schools
While pools and popsicles are still front and center, many people are anxiously awaiting the start of the new school year. Top of mind is masks, and whether they’ll be required for kids and teachers returning to school buildings in person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its masking guidelines to recommend everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status. This is a change from their previous guidance that stated masks were only necessary for those not fully vaccinated.
Returning to school safely
The CDC joins the American Academy of Pediatrics, which made the same recommendation last week – that masks be worn by everyone age 2 or older in school.
“This guidance comes at a critical time as the newer Delta variant is being transmitted quickly in many areas of the country,” said Dr. Suzanne Lavoie, infectious diseases specialist and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine. “Being in school in person is ideal for many, if not most, children academically and emotionally. These recommendations are aimed at mitigating the public health risks associated with returning our kids to in-person learning.”
Governor Northam announced last week that in Virginia, individual school systems will have the authority to set guidelines for masks based on the data and circumstances in their communities.
Vaccination remains essential
This guideline will protect children at the elementary level who are too young to get a COVID vaccine. But what about the older students, teachers and other school personnel who have already received their vaccines?
“The vaccine remains our best line of defense against COVID-19. While there are occasionally breakthrough cases – where someone who has received the vaccine still gets the disease – generally the symptoms are much less severe, and hospitalization is not required,” added Dr. Lavoie. “It’s also important to note that those of us who have been vaccinated are still able to spread the virus. The mask guidelines are a matter of protecting ourselves and others while the virus still poses a very real health threat.”
Start talking with kids about wearing masks in school
With the first day of school still several weeks away for most students in Central Virginia, circumstances and guidance could shift again before they return to the classroom. If your child is one who needs time to adjust and prepare, however, it’s a good idea to start talking about the possibility of wearing a mask and even practicing at home.
Keep up with the latest on COVID-19, including the vaccine, masks and returning to school.