The American Academy of Pediatrics called on schools on Monday to impose universal masking mandates because so many children will not be protected by the fall and schools have no way of verifying COVID vaccine status.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended on Monday that all children over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks when returning to school this year.
The AAP recommends that school staff wear masks as well, stating that it is critical for children to return to in-person learning this year. The AAP refers to the new guidelines as a “layered approach.”
“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, chair of the AAP Council on School Health. “Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”
According to the AAP, universal masking is required because a large portion of the student population is not vaccinated, making it difficult for schools to determine who is as new variants emerge that may spread more easily among children.
AAP also recommends that all eligible individuals get vaccinated, that adequate and timely testing resources are available, and that strategies developed can be revised and adapted based on the situation in the community.
In the United States, children aged 12 and up are eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations. In addition, the FDA announced last week that emergency approval for vaccines for children under the age of 12 could come as early as midwinter.
According to the AAP, universal masking will also protect students and staff from other respiratory illnesses that could keep children from attending school.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced earlier this month that vaccinated students are not required to wear masks in school.
What hasn’t changed is the advice for children under the age of two, which states that wearing masks is dangerous for newborns and infants because they can cause suffocation, and babies and toddlers may try to remove them, increasing their chances of contracting the virus.