American Academy of Pediatrics says ALL children above age 2 should wear masks in schools 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidance for fully reopening schools in the fall and called on all children above age two to wear masks.

In recommendations published on Monday, the organization said it fully supports in-person learning but that kids should don face coverings regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. 

‘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,’ a statement reads.

‘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.’

This is much stricter than the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month that recommended masks should be worn only  indoors and among those who are not fully vaccinated.   

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidance on Monday saying that all students above age 2 and staff in schools should wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Pictured: Students wearing face masks at St Joseph Catholic School in La Puente, California, November 2020

Children are less likely to get sick than adults (above) and make up 14% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. but just 0.1% of all deaths

Children are less likely to get sick than adults (above) and make up 14% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. but just 0.1% of all deaths 

Although children can contract COVID-19 and pass it on to adults, they are much less likely to fall severely ill and die.

Currently, children under age 18 make up 14 percent of all cases to date and just 0.1 percent of all Covid-related deaths in the U.S., according to the AAP.

Polls suggest that parents are 50/50 about vaccinating children with a recent CDC report suggesting 56 percent of parents of 12-to-17-year-olds plan to vaccinate their children. 

COVID-19 vaccines are only available for Americans aged 12 and older.

However, Pfizer-BioNTech says it plans to file for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine among children ages five to 11 by the fall with hopes it will be approved in the winter.

Because this means millions of children will not be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines when the new school year starts, the AAP says that all children – and staff – should wear masks unless they have a medical or developmental condition.

The organization says universal masking is recommended because not only will this reduce transmission, but because there is no system to monitor vaccination status among students, teachers and staff.  

The AAP also echoed the CDC’s school guidance including increased ventilation, regular testing, promoting hand hygiene and quarantining those who have symptoms. 

‘There are many children and others who cannot be vaccinated,’ said Dr Sara Bode, chair-person elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee, in a statement. 

‘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.’  

When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck in March 2020, schools quickly closed and pivoted to remote learning.

However, online learning took toll on mental health issues with kids feeling increasingly lonely and isolated.  

‘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 Dr Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, 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.’