The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 2 and older wear masks when they return to the classroom, even if fully vaccinated.
"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," Sonja O'Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said on Monday. "Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking, and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone."
Teachers and school staff members also need to wear masks, because children under 12 cannot be vaccinated at this time and there is the possibility of more variants that could spread easily among children, the AAP said. Children under the age of 2 should not wear masks, as they are a suffocation risk.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told CNN on Monday that when "you have a degree of viral dynamics in the community, and you have a substantial proportion of the population that is unvaccinated, that you really want to go the extra step, the extra mile to make sure that there's not a lot of transmission, even breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals." The AAP is "a thoughtful group, they analyze the situation, and if they feel that's the way to go, I think that's a reasonable thing to do," he added.