Pediatric group recommends masks for students over 2 when schools reopen


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended on Monday that all students older than 2 years old wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, when schools reopen in the fall.

The leading pediatrics organization called for universal masking, noting that most school-aged children are not yet eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and many schools are not planning to track the vaccination status of students and staff.

“There are many children and others who cannot be vaccinated,” Sara Bode, chairperson-elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee, said in a statement. “This is why it’s important to use every tool in our toolkit to safeguard children from COVID-19.”

Support for reopening: The AAP said, however, it “strongly recommends in-person learning,” adding that children face a higher risk of mental health issues and developmental setbacks if students do not return to classrooms.

The pediatrics group acknowledged that current research indicates reopening schools with safety precautions like masking “does not significantly increase community transmission.” But with variants like the delta strain spreading, the AAP noted transmission could increase.

Overall, the AAP says opening schools with effective safety precautions, including masking, is the right move.