LANSING, MICHIGAN - "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 American Academy of Pediatrics has updated COVID-19 guidelines for making the 2021-2022 school year safe. The AAP advises that in-person learning should resume, and all ages eligible to be vaccinated do so. Also included in the updated guidelines were mask recommendations. It is highly suggested that regardless of an individual's vaccination status, people older than age two should currently still be wearing a mask.
AAP's reasoning for universal masking is because a substantial portion of the student population is not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. Masking is proven to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and provide protection for those who are not yet vaccinated.
"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. Universal masking is one of those tools and has been proven effective in protecting people against other respiratory diseases, as well.''
Research has since discovered that opening schools do not significantly increase transmission if masking and other safety measures are put into action. The recent COVID-19 variants that have emerged may increase the risk of transmission and potentially result in worsening illness.
"The last thing we want as we come out of this pandemic is an outbreak of another vaccine-preventable disease," Dr. O'Leary said. "Now is the time for all of us to work together to keep our kids healthy and safe. Your pediatrician can help families who have any questions or concerns about returning to the classroom."
For more information on safe COVID-19 guidelines, go to the link below.
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