The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that everyone over the age of 2 wear masks in school even if they are vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask for unvaccinated students and staff but also recommends that decisions on mask use take into account local spread of COVID-19.
“I think that the American Academy of Pediatrics got it pretty good here. There’s never going to be a perfect answer here and there’s going to be people who have issues with one or the other no matter what,” said Dr. Matthew Sims, director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont Health. “From the beginning, we were intending on our kids going back with the masks, at least our unvaccinated child. Now with delta, probably the vaccinated child as well ... because its going to keep them safer.”
It also reduces the chance that individuals might be singled out.
“When one or two kids in a class are wearing masks because their parents think its the right thing to do and everybody else isn’t because the guidelines say well you don’t have to, I think it’s easier for the group to pick on the one or two that stand out,” Sims said.
“There’s unintended benefits of this which are one of the things we saw when everybody was wearing masks was much lower rates of flu, RSV and other respiratory illnesses.”
More: Return to School updates
Schools confront more polarization with mask rules for fall
Students in Wichita, Kansas, public schools can ditch the masks when classes begin. Detroit public schools will probably require them unless everyone in a room is vaccinated. In Pittsburgh, masks will likely be required regardless of vaccination status. And in some states, schools cannot mandate face coverings under any circumstances.
With COVID-19 cases soaring nationwide, school districts across the U.S. are yet again confronting the realities of a polarized country and the lingering pandemic as they navigate mask requirements, vaccine rules and social distancing requirements for the fast-approaching new school year.
The spread of the delta variant and the deep political divisions over the outbreak have complicated decisions in districts from coast to coast. Some conservative states, lawmakers have banned districts from requiring masks despite outcry from medical professionals. Schools are weighing a variety of plans to manage junior high and middle school classrooms filled with both vaccinated and unvaccinated students.