The American Academy of Pediatrics released new Covid-19 guidance for schools on Monday that supports in-person learning and, among other things, recommends universal masking in schools for everyone over the age of 2.
“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 guidance says.
One of the main interventions put forward by the AAP includes that all students over the age of 2 and all school staff should wear masks at school unless they have a medical or developmental condition that prohibits this.
Reasons for this recommendation include, but are not limited to: a significant proportion of the student population not yet being eligible for vaccination; masking protecting those who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 and reducing transmission; and potential difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies for those who are not vaccinated.
Additionally, other actions recommended by AAP include that all eligible individuals get vaccinated; that adequate and timely testing resources are available; and that strategies that are developed can be revised and adapted depending on the situation in the community.
“With the above principles in mind, the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school COVID-19 plans should start with a goal of keeping students safe and physically present in school,” the guidance says. “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in 2020.”