MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that all children over the age of 2 wear masks when returning to the classroom this coming school year.
The new recommendation goes beyond the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control, which said this summer that masks aren’t necessary for vaccinated students in the fall.
The pediatricians group is concerned for children under the age of 11, a demographic not yet eligible for any of the COVID-19 vaccines. They recommend all children wear masks, even those 12 and older who are vaccinated.
The group, which “strongly recommends” in-person learning, is also encouraging teachers and staff to wear masks to protect unvaccinated children. However, they noted that some people have conditions that make mask-wearing difficult.
The new guidance comes as the highly-transmissible Delta variant is spreading rapidly across the country, particularly among unvaccinated people.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the new guidance is understandable. “They just want to be extra safe,” he said.
In Minnesota, where about 70% of adults have been vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s unclear how the new guidance will affect schools.
The Minnesota Department of Education says it will follow the Centers for Disease Control recommendations or any federal mask mandates. For instance, a mask mandate is still in place for public transportation, meaning that bus-riding students will need to wear masks.
Since Gov. Tim Walz no longer wields emergency powers, he can’t issue a mask mandate for Minnesota schools.