KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended on Monday that schools adopt universal masking for everyone over the age of two for the 2021-2022 school year.
The AAP also strongly recommended that schools return to in-person learning and people who are eligible get vaccinated, according to a news release.
"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," the release said. "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."
The group cites the emerging COVID-19 variants as a reason for concern about the risk of transmission in schools as well as the risk for worsening illness.
The fast-spreading delta variant emerged as the dominant variant of COVID-19 earlier this month.
AAP's other recommendations include:
- Schools should be prepared to adopt an all-encompassing approach for mental health support.
- Adequate and timely COVID-19 testing resources must be available and accessible.
- Strategies should be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission and test positivity rate throughout the community and schools..
- School policies should be adjusted to align with new information about the pandemic; administrators should refine approaches when specific policies are not working.
- School districts must be in close communication and coordinate with state and/or local public health authorities, school nurses, local pediatric practitioners, and other medical experts.