BALTIMORE, Maryland – Just as most mask terms have ended across the country, the American Academy of Pediatrics is contradicting the CDC and recommends that all students and teachers wear a mask when they return to class this fall, whether they are vaccinated or not.
The AAP recommends universal masking because a large portion of the student body is still not eligible to be vaccinated. They also fear the virus could spread to schools in communities with low vaccination rates.
CDC and Maryland officials are leaving it up to school systems to decide on a mask mandate for students and teachers.
Meanwhile, many schools across the country are struggling to find enough teachers as they prepare for fall. Many teachers have left the profession, saying the safety of Covid as well as their work environment is a concern for the return to school.
As the highly contagious delta variant spreads in unvaccinated communities, the American Academy of Pediatrics is hoping that a universal mask warrant is a way to protect both teachers and students.
Dr. Sara Bode of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that “universal masking was really something we thought about even before the delta variant, but of course it adds to the risk, doesn’t it? So we know that if we have a Covid virus which is more transmissible then even more children are at risk. But even regardless of the delta variant, what we do know is that children under 12 cannot be vaccinated, [only] children between 12 and 18 years old.
“There are a lot of communities that still have a very low vaccination rate. So when you bring these students back to the indoor classroom, if they don’t mask or implement these mitigation strategies, it prepares them for having Covid outbreaks within the school. Added Bode.
On CNN, Dr Anthony Fauci called the AAP’s conflicting recommendation puzzling but well-advised.
“I think the American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, it’s a thoughtful group. They analyze the situation and if they think this is the way to go, I think it is a reasonable thing to do, ”Fauci said.
Maryland’s public school systems are debating the need for warrants for masks this fall.
Administrators at Anne Arundel County Public Schools have not decided whether students will need to wear masks.
Baltimore County public school administrators will not require students or staff to wear face masks in schools, but will recommend them for those who are not vaccinated.
Baltimore city public school administrators agree with the AAP to require all staff and students to wear masks, whether or not they are vaccinated.
Carroll County public school administrators said masks would be optional.
Howard County public school administrators have yet to make a final decision on mask requirements.
Harford County public school administrators are not requiring masks to be worn in schools at this time.
The FDA estimates that Covid vaccines could be approved for children under 12 this winter.