The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now “carefully looking” at its current guidance regarding mask-wearing for children as they prepare to return to the classroom in about a month following the summer recess, according to the country’s lead immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The CDC had recommended that social distancing and masks were not necessary for vaccinated kids ahead of the new school year, but officials are now rethinking their guidance after the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced this week that the organization was breaking with that recommendation and now advising that anyone two years old and older wear masks in schools to curb the spread of COVID-19 “regardless of vaccination status.”
The CDC’s current guidance did say that a school could opt to universally mask regardless of vaccine status if the community needs were such that officials believed it would be necessary.
“[Parents] should do what has been locally asked for,” Fauci. who is President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, told CBS Tuesday morning, noting that the AAP’s masking recommendations are “the extra step of caution.”
The @ameracadpeds is recommending that children above the age of two wear masks when they return to school, even those who are vaccinated. This is causing public confusion as the CDC has said that vaccinated students do not need to wear masks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci weighs in. pic.twitter.com/waAubYhNnh
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) July 20, 2021
“That is a bit different from the CDC guidelines but right now the CDC is carefully looking at that and hopefully we’ll have some now concordance of the recommendations,” Fauci continued, referencing what he described as a “high degree of infection dynamics” that drove the AAP’s decision to break with the CDC.
A spokesperson for the pediatrics organization told Fox News its masking recommendations for all kids regardless of whether they have gotten a vaccine is due to a number of reasons including a “significant portion of the student population not eligible for vaccination, to protect unvaccinated students and reduce transmission, [ease] potential difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies, potential low vaccine uptake in the community and continued concerns for variants more easily spread among children, adolescents and adults.”
The change in policy comes as COVID cases are again on the rise around the U.S. in all states due to the emergence of a new and highly contagious variant known as Delta. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week that the new outbreak is itself becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the vast majority of new hospitalizations involve patients who have not gotten the jab.
At present, just one vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, has been authorized for use in children 12 years old and up. But other vaccine makers said they plan to ask for emergency use authorization for children 5-11 ahead of this fall.
If the country manages to fully suppress COVID-19, Fauci said that it’s likely schools won’t add the jab to a current list of required vaccines. However, it cases continue to spike that could change, adding “if we go into this year and the next year, and we see we still have a problem with this, it very well might be required.”
Already, parents are pushing back on the mask recommendation by the CDC.
“I’m disappointed to hear that,” said parent Kimberley Brock of Clark County, Tenn.
“We were under the impression with a vaccine, you will no longer have to be wearing your mask,” said Brock, whose four children have gotten vaccinated. “I’m also not really happy to hear that because they’ll have to be wearing their masks in the classroom. I don’t approve of that at all.”
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