The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “carefully looking” at its school mask guidance following the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) releasing its own on Monday recommending everyone two and older, regardless of vaccination status, to mask up at school, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Speaking to CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Fauci recommended parents follow local guidance as they send their children back to school and said the CDC is “carefully looking” at the discrepancy between the AAP’s recommendation and its own. Currently, the CDC recommends only the unvaccinated to wear masks in school settings, but the AAP says everyone over the age of two should wear masks in those settings “regardless of vaccination status.”
That, Fauci said, is taking “the extra step of caution.”
“That is a bit different from the CDC guidelines but right now the CDC is carefully looking at that and hopefully we’ll have some now concordance of the recommendations,” Fauci said, attributing the AAP’s recommendation to the “high degree of infection dynamics that we’re seeing.”
“They want to go the extra mile to make sure that the children are protected in school,” he said, citing an uptick in coronavirus cases in the United States:
The @ameracadpeds is recommending that children above the age of two wear masks when they return to school, even those who are vaccinated. This is causing public confusion as the CDC has said that vaccinated students do not need to wear masks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci weighs in. pic.twitter.com/waAubYhNnh
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) July 20, 2021
In its Monday guidance, the AAP “strongly” recommended all of those who are eligible to get a vaccine, although the vaccines — none of which have been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — are not available to those under the age of 12.
But, even if school-age children are vaccinated, they should still wear a mask, according to the AAP.
“AAP recommends universal masking because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines, and masking is proven to reduce transmission of the virus and to protect those who are not vaccinated,” the AAP said in a statement, citing the fact that schools “will not have a system to monitor vaccine status of students, teachers and staff.”
Sara Bode, MD, FAAP, chairperson-elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee, called universal masking an essential tool that “has been proven effective in protecting people against other respiratory diseases.”
An AAP spokesperson attributed the universal masking recommendation to the “significant portion of the student population not eligible for vaccination.”
The recommendation, the spokesperson told Fox News, is aimed to “protect unvaccinated students and reduce transmission, [ease] potential difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies.” The spokesperson also attributed the decision to “potential low vaccine uptake in the community and continued concerns for variants more easily spread among children, adolescents and adults.”
The CDC’s current guidance emphasizes the importance of in-person learning, but it suggests that unvaccinated children should continue to wear masks.