Cincinnati Children's Recommends All Kids Wear Masks When Returning to In-Person School

Cincinnati Children's says that teachers, staff and students should continue to wear masks — regardless of vaccination status — as in-person learning returns.

click to enlarge "Cincinnati Children’s recommends that all children returning to in-person school wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Many children are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and others should mask because no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection." - Photo: Ketut Subiyanto
Photo: Ketut Subiyanto
"Cincinnati Children’s recommends that all children returning to in-person school wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Many children are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and others should mask because no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over — and residents within the United States should take immediate measures to protect themselves and their loved ones.

And Cincinnati Children's agrees. 

During a special address on Tuesday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned that the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus has been dominating COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past several weeks and beyond. And though the current authorized vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson help lessen the severity of the virus, they can't stop it completely, she warned.

Walensky said that the CDC now is recommending that all individuals resume wearing face masks indoors and in crowds, especially in regions of high transmission — even vaccinated individuals. Walensky stressed that because of Delta's high transmissibility, it's much easier to infect people who can't be vaccinated at this time, such as children under age 12 or immunocompromised people.

"We're seeing now that it's actually possible if you're a rare breakthrough infection that you can transmit further, which is the reason for the change," Walensky said.

Walensky also said the CDC recommends masking for all students and employees in schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

"CDC recommends localities encourage universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status," the CDC's new guidance says. "Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies are in place."

On Monday, before the CDC's announcement, Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s, said much of the safety measures are not up to the children, especially those younger than 12 who aren’t eligible for the vaccine.

“I don’t want to see the day where somebody under age 12 was infected because someone in their life chose not to be vaccinated or chose not to wear a mask,” Manning-Courtney said. “That would be a sad day.”

And, in concert with those sentiments, Cincinnati Children's sent a statement early Wednesday morning recommending masking for all students and employees.

"Cincinnati Children’s recommends that all children returning to in-person school wear masks, regardless of vaccination status," it said in part. "Many children are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and others should mask because no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection. In addition, teachers and staff should continue to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status."

On Monday, the Ohio Department of Health shared its COVID-19 precautions for school districts and parents but stopped short of mandating masks for students and employees, despite their effectiveness.

"While there are no mandates associated with this guidance, we believe that the recommendations we are issuing are essential to the health of Ohio’s youth, and the success of the coming school year," said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its school-opening recommendations, encouraging a “layered approach,” including mask-wearing for anyone older than age 2.

Cincinnati Public Schools has been exploring a mask mandate for the 2021-2022 school year but has not yet announced its decision. CityBeat has reached out to the district for comment.

Read the full statement from Cincinnati Children's below:

Cincinnati Children’s recommends that all children returning to in-person school wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Many children are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and others should mask because no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection.

In addition, teachers and staff should continue to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

While each school district must decide the best way to safeguard students, it’s important to note that masks are about 85% effective in preventing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines can provide even greater protection, but the federal government’s ongoing review of data from clinical trials may mean that children 11 years old and younger won’t be eligible for vaccination until late this year or early next year.

Cincinnati Children’s agrees with recent guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics that masks and vaccinations remain the most effective protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and risk of death from COVID-19. Hand washing and social distancing also can reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory viruses.

Cincinnati Children’s also agrees with the AAP on the importance of in-person learning for all children. Beyond academic instruction, the school environment plays a fundamental role in the healthy development of children — including social interaction, nutrition, mental health, social services, and extracurricular activities.

Please note that the impact of COVID-19 is evolving rapidly. This guidance reflects the current environment and will be updated as needed.


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