The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that anyone over the age of 2 wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, when the new school year begins this year.
In the announcement, which came on Monday, in new guidance called a "layered approach," the AAP recommended that all school staff wears masks when in-person learning returns this year.
“We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers -- and we all play a role in making sure it happens safely,” said Sonja O’Leary, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said in a news release. “The pandemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on children, and it’s not just their education that has suffered but their mental, emotional and physical health. Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking, and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”
The association said the reason for the recommendation is "because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines" and that wearing a mask "is proven to reduce transmission of the virus and to protect those who are not vaccinated."
The AAP added that many schools don't have a monitoring system to see who is vaccinated, and it might be hard to determine who is. With new variants emerging, it could lead to an increase in transmission among children.
On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about masking in schools during a briefing with the media.
"The president is going to rely on the recommendations of the CDC," Psaki said.
She added that local school districts should make their own decisions based on the guidance of local health departments.
In the U.S., anyone over the age of 12 is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination.
Last week, the FDA reportedly said that the emergency use authorization for vaccines for children under 12 could come in early to midwinter.
Also, in the news release, the AAP added that with a rise in COVID cases at summer camps, they recommend that campers wear masks during indoor activities.