The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their recommendations for schools. “The AAP believes that, at this point in the pandemic, given what we know about low rates of in-school transmission when proper prevention measures are used, together with the availability of effective vaccines for those age 12 years and up, that the benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks in all circumstances,” the new guidance says.
Back to school for fall 2021
“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.”
This strong recommendation for in-person learning takes into account the developmental needs of children as well as the fact that in-school transmission rates have been low.
The Centers for Disease Control have also called for a return to in-person learning. “Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority,” their guidance says. “Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.”
If you, or your kids 12 and up, have not been vaccinated yet, please contact MANA to arrange for your vaccinations.
Masks for all
The CDC and the AAP advise masks for everyone at school, ages 2 and up.
One reason for this is that children under 12 cannot be vaccinated. Masks will provide maximum safety for those who are too young to be vaccinated.
There are also other people who cannot be vaccinated. People with allergic reactions to the vaccine, for example, may not be able to get their shots.
Finally, many people have chosen not to get vaccinated. In Arkansas, just 35.4% of us are fully vaccinated as of this writing. We cannot tell who is vaccinated and who is not. More than 6,000 Arkansans have died of COVID-19. Returning to masks in school is an extra layer of protection for our children and educators.
“When you have a degree of viral dynamics in the community and you have a substantial proportion of the population that is unvaccinated, you really want to go the extra step, the extra mile, to make sure that there is not a lot of transmissions, even breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.