Regardless of vaccine status, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking in schools

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New mask recommendations from the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) are calling for everyone 2 years old and up to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. This is different from the directions the Center for Disease Control provided, which says only those who are unvaccinated need to mask up.

Dr. Jospeh Chow, of Western New York Immediate Care, says the AAP’s guidance makes sense because the latest Covid-19 strain could affect many in schools who are ineligible for the vaccine.

“By in large the kids who are under 12 may not have gotten the vaccination, and it probably wouldn’t be available to them at this point, and by the time they start school.”

Dr. Chow says the Delta variant of the Covid-19 strain will likely be the dominant variant for the next month. Because it is easily transmissible and spreads quickly among the unvaccinated, he understands why the AAP made the announcement.

During summer school programs in the Niagara Falls district, students have the option to wear a mask, or not. Superintendent Mark Laurrie says about 90% of those students still choose to wear a mask during class. After seeing that response, he is confident there won’t be any issues if this guidance becomes a state mandate.

Laurrie does, however, wish there was more guidance from New York State or the Center for Disease Control.

“What that announcement did is add confusion to the mix. Because, who are we following? What are we following,” asked Laurrie. “It plants, doubts and seeds and confusion in people’s heads.”

Laurrie says New York school districts are used to adapting, which they proved during the height of the pandemic. He wants to be able to give clear directions to parents, students, and staff.

“Let’s put a statement out now about what September would look like, with the understanding and knowledge that if the variant strain or some other situation came up, you would have to pivot back.”

The President of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association, Michael Cornell, says there is still plenty of time before school starts.

“Everybody needs to just take a breath, relax, let’s let some time pass here in the summer and we’ll see what the world looks like in 30 days,” said Cornell.

News 4 reached out to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the New York State Department of Health. A representative from the Department of Health said in a statement,

“We continue to review the new CDC guidance, communicate with school districts around the state, and will ultimately make our recommendations based on what is in the best interest of public health, particularly when it comes to children.”

-Abigail Barker, NYS Department of Health

To review the AAP’s statement, click here.

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