The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended Monday that all children over the age of 2 wear masks in school this fall, regardless of vaccination status, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the nation. The guidelines, which strongly support the return to in-person learning in the coming months, reflect a multi-pronged approach to see students return safely to the classroom more than
A year and a half after the pandemic began. 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,” Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said in a statement. “Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking, and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.
The body also recommended that parents ensure their children are caught up on vaccinations they may have missed during the pandemic and that schools provide adequate ventilation indoors, as well as increased resources for testing, quarantining, and cleaning when positive cases of the virus emerge. (The AAP’s guidelines include exclusions for students with medical conditions or disabilities.) Vaccines for children in the U.S. are currently authorized only for those 12 and older, meaning many students will likely return to classrooms without inoculations this fall. The AAP pointed to those restrictions in its recommendations and the inability of many schools to monitor students’ vaccination status, particularly in communities with low vaccination rates.