A group known as the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) representing over 2,500 pediatricians across the state released a statement Thursday backing the use of masks in schools.
With the Delta variant causing an influx of COVID-19 cases across the state, Thursday’s announcement resembles the FCAAP’s recommendations from this time last year before the 2020-2021 school year, but with the inclusion of vaccination protocols.
The announcement reads:
“Since children under 12 years of age are still not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine will most likely not be available for this age group until winter of 2021, most children are still at risk for Coronavirus infection and transmitting the infection to others. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend masking in schools. The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) supports the continued, universal use of masks and physical distancing in schools by all individuals including students, faculty members, and staff through the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Masking should be in addition to the continuation of testing protocols in schools to mitigate the spread of infection. Finally, and most importantly, FCAAP recommends that all vaccine eligible children, faculty, and staff in schools should be vaccinated.”
In 2020’s list of FCAAP recommendations, it states, “Recent data suggest that children and young adults 10-19 years of age can spread COVID-19 to adults and others at rates similar to those in the adult age ranges … Schools should strongly consider mandatory masks and distancing, as well as on-line and hybrid learning plans to lessen potential exposures during local disease spikes and increasing positive case testing rates. The exact plan should be developed by each local school district in consultation with local pediatricians, family physicians, epidemiologists, and infectious disease specialists.”
While Thursday’s announcement did not mention what age students are required to wear masks, the 2020 recommendation regarding masks said that “students above the age of five” should wear masks while in school. Whether or not an age exception will be included in the official list of recommendations for the 2021-2022 school year is unknown.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]