We could have sworn that the CDC said that the children did not have to mask up not that long ago. We also could have sworn that we came across a study from JAMA Pediatrics that spoke up about masks that could be exposing children to increased levels of carbon dioxide. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children wear masks to school this fall, as long as they are over the age of 2.
No, their vaccination status does not matter. With the fall semester just a month away, it would be great if all of the experts could finally find a way to get on the same page. If there is one positive aspect that we can note, it is the fact that the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are of the same mindset when it comes to opening schools in the fall.
They both believe that kids need to be back in schools, come hell or high water. Variants or no variants, asking kids to stay home for another year is too much. While children should not be forced to choose between another year at home on Zoom and sitting in classrooms fully masked, the second option is obviously the best. We have more on the latest statements from the AAP:
“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 pandemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on children, and it’s not just their education that has suffered but their mental, emotional and physical health. Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”
AAP recommends universal masking because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines, and masking is proven to reduce transmission of the virus and to protect those who are not vaccinated. Many schools will not have a system to monitor vaccine status of students, teachers and staff, and some communities overall have low vaccination uptake where the virus may be circulating more prominently.
Research has shown that opening schools generally does not significantly increase community transmission with masking and other safety measures in place. Recently, COVID-19 variants have emerged that may increase the risk of transmission and result in worsening illness. Given the effectiveness of safety precautions when used consistently, children are at higher risk of suffering mental health issues and developmental setbacks if they miss out on in-school learning, according to AAP.”
“They will not be popular amongst parents and kids who are sick of masks, but you know what? The virus doesn’t care that we’re sick of masks,” NIH chief Francis Collins said when speaking to NBC about the AAP mask recommendations. “The virus is having another version of its wonderful party for itself. And to the degree that we can squash that by doing something that maybe is a little uncomfortable, a little inconvenient … if it looks like it’s going to help, put the mask back on for a while,” he continued.
In the meantime, doctors look to find evidence about the Delta variant and whether it will be affecting children at a different rate than the original iteration of the virus. On the other hand, doctors are concerned about children bringing the variant to their families, which is where things can get really challenging.
It was believed that children were not vectors for the original virus but that’s not a determination that can be made with any level of certainty anymore. “Last year, for example, you would have to give a child a really high infectious dose to make them sick, but with the virus that’s more contagious, even what would be an insignificant exposure could get them sick,” said one Yale professor to NBC. Before long, the entire US will be declared high risk by Dr. Fauci…..so good luck, children.