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CEO DATELINE – Pediatrics group urges mask wearing for upcoming school year

July 20, 2021

By Kathryn Walson

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday updated its guidance for the coming school year to include a recommendation that everyone over age 2 wear masks regardless of whether they’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“Universal masking” is necessary because many students are not yet eligible for vaccines and many schools do not have a way to monitor the vaccine status of students, teachers and staff, according to the guidance.

AAP, which is based outside Chicago, said it supports in-person learning and encourages everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated. The academy also endorses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for building ventilation, testing, quarantining, cleaning and disinfection.

“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.

“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 also released updated recommendations for summer camps. It advises camp directors to follow CDC guidance for maintaining healthy environments and operations and promote COVID-19 vaccination for staff and campers 12 years of age and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine. All campers should wear masks during indoor activities, according to the academy.