American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masks when school starts

It will be up to each school district to decide how they want to handle the mask issue.
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Thirty-five days until school starts and there are new recommendations for schools on face masks from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The AAP is recommending that when school starts universal masking should be the rule in every school. Meaning, all students over 2 years of age should wear face masks inside school buildings. It’s also recommended that all teachers and school staff wear masks, whether they are vaccinated or not.

Cleveland City School’s Superintendent Eric Gordon is among the first to let parents know how students, teachers, and staff will begin the school year.

“For the first five weeks of school or until updated CDC guidance is released with different recommendations, all CMSD students, employees and school guests including those that are fully vaccinated will be expected to continue mask usage at school and during indoor school events and activities,” Gordon said in a video posted to the district’s Facebook page. “As recommended by the CDC we will also maintain a three-foot social distancing requirement where practical, but no one will be prohibited from attending full five-day in-person learning.”

Although Cleveland schools is taking this step, masking is not mandatory, and it comes as the discussion about mask-wearing is heating up again ahead of the school year.

19 News went out to Edgewater Park where hundreds of children and their families were freely enjoying the weather without masks. But in just over a month they could be asked to wear masks in the classroom. The AAP is hoping all schools will make it part of their lesson plan.

At the park, Arthur Keith was helping train a young man to box and he says Ohio has taken a one, two, three punch trying to fight its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Keith, of Cleveland, and others say we can’t step out of the boxing ring just yet because children and teachers need a fighting chance against the emerging Delta variant.

“I think every kid in school should have a mask because this is another one and its kind of dangerous,” Keith said.

“I feel like there’s just so much danger still out there,” said another Cleveland resident who was enjoying the day at the park.

Doctor Claudia Hoyen, director of Infection Control for Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals agrees with the AAP, saying with children under 12 unable to get the vaccine and the surge in the Delta variant we can’t let our guard down.

The CDC’s earlier recommendation not requiring masks in schools if you’re vaccinated came out when the threat of the variant was much lower.

“At that time within Cleveland, the Delta variant was only about 5% of what we’re seeing,” said Hoyen. “Now it’s closer to 40 to 50% depending on the population.”

However, parent LaKeisha Rhodes who was at the park with her 13-year-old son says that while she’s concerned about the variant, she doesn’t want to force her son to wear a mask.

“My son who is autistic, it’s frustrating and it bothers him,” she said.

The recommendations from the AAP and the CDC are just that recommendations. It’s up to each individual school district to decide whether they want students, teachers and staff to mask up.

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