American Academy of Pediatrics urging students, staff to wear masks this fall

BOSTON — In the school’s latest reopening announcement, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges everyone older than age 2 to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, for the upcoming fall semester. School officials are also recommending everyone, who is eligible, be vaccinated to protect against COVID-19.

“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.”

The AAP is also amplifying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for building ventilation, testing, quarantining, cleaning, and disinfection in the updated guidance.

AAP recommends masks due to a significant portion of the student population still not yet eligible for vaccines. Another reason for the decision is due to that many schools will not have a system to monitor the vaccine status of students, teachers, and staff.

“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. It’s also the most effective strategy to create consistent messages and expectations among students without the added burden of needing to monitor everyone’s vaccination status.”

For a full list of other recommendations that AAP lists in the reopening announcement, click here.

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