BALTIMORE, Md. — Just as most mask mandates have ended across the country, the American Academy of Pediatrics contradicts the CDC and recommends all students and teachers should wear a mask when they go back to the classroom this fall, whether they’re vaccinated or not.
The AAP recommends universal masking because a large portion of the student population still isn't eligible to get vaccinated. They're also concerned the virus could spread in schools located in communities with low vaccination rates.
The CDC and Maryland officials are leaving it up to the school systems to decide on a mask mandate for students and teachers.
Meanwhile, many schools across the country are struggling to find enough teachers as they prepare for the fall. Many teachers have left the profession, saying that Covid safety as well as their work environment is a concern about returning to school.
As the highly contagious delta variant spreads through unvaccinated communities, the American Academy of Pediatrics hopes a universal mask mandate is one way to protect both teachers and students.
American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sara Bode said “universal masking was really something we thought about even prior to the delta variant, but of course that adds on to the risk right? So, we know that if we have a Covid virus that's more transmissible, then even more kids are at risk. But even regardless of the delta variant, what we know is that kids younger than 12 can't be vaccinated, [only] kids between 12 and 18.”
“There's many communities that still have a really low vaccination rate. So, when you get these students back in the classroom at an indoor setting, if they're not masking or doing those mitigation strategies, then that sets them up to have outbreaks of Covid within the school,” Bode added.
On CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci called the AAP’s conflicting recommendation confusing but well advised.
“I think that the American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, they're a thoughtful group. They analyze the situation and if they feel that is the way to go, I think that is a reasonable thing to do,” Fauci said.
Maryland public school systems are debating the need for mask mandates this fall.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools administrators haven’t decided whether students will be required to wear masks.
Baltimore County Public Schools administrators won't require students or staff to wear face masks in schools but they are recommending them for those not vaccinated.
Baltimore City Public Schools administrators agree with the AAP in requiring all staff and students to wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not.
Carroll County Public Schools administrators said masks will be optional.
Howard County Public Schools administrators haven’t made a final decision on mask requirements yet.
Harford County Public Schools administrators are not requiring masks to be worn in schools as of now.
The FDA estimates Covid vaccines could be approved for kids under age 12 sometime this winter.