The CDC Weighs In On Masks In School For The Rest Of The Year

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The CDC is clearing up confusion over its recent suggestion that fully vaccinated Americans can ditch their masks

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues expanding to include Americans of all age groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shocked many last week when they announced that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear a mask indoors, just days after announcing that masks in most outdoor spaces aren’t necessary to prevent the spread of the virus either if you’re fully vaccinated.

The new mask guidance certainly came as a bit of a surprise since only about 60 percent of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — and vaccine trials for children under five have only just begun. While it seems more likely that children under 12 might be able to return to school in the fall fully vaccinated, as of right now, they are still at risk if attending in-person classes, activities, and gatherings without masks.

In a new update to their school and childcare operational strategy bulletin, the CDC has addressed these concerns, recommending that schools and childcare centers continue adhering to proven COVID-19 prevention methods, including mask-wearing and physical distancing, for the rest of the school year.

Parents, that means you can breathe a sigh of relief as your little ones enter their last weeks of the 2020-2021 school year.

The agency acknowledged that children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive vaccinations, and that children between the ages of 12 and 15 only just became eligible on May 12, which doesn’t provide adequate time for them to be fully immunized prior to the end of the school year. “Systems and policy adjustments may be required for schools to change mask requirements for students and staff while continuing to ensure the safety of unvaccinated populations,” they noted, adding that they’ll “update guidance for schools in the coming weeks” as the vaccine rollout continues and the school year comes to a close.

Though more than 123 million Americans (roughly 44 percent of the population) over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, there are still so many who aren’t yet eligible or who aren’t completely immunized, including literally every child younger than 12. The CDC’s latest suggestions should serve as an important reminder that the virus is still a threat to our most vulnerable and our youngest populations, and until case levels are way down and vaccination levels are way up, masks, distancing, and frequent hand-washing are still crucial to protect ourselves and those around us from COVID-19 and its variants.