Public health officials are urging schools to implement mask mandates as COVID spreads out of control through our kids’ schools
As the delta variant of the coronavirus is causing massive surges in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, schools have gone ahead with their opening plans anyway, many of them without even masking plans in place to protect their students, teachers, and staff. And now, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is revealing the result of that utter lack of care: The organization says that in just the last three weeks, more than 500,000 kids across the country have tested positive for COVID-19. Yes, you read that right — more than half a million kids in just three weeks.
The report was based on data collected from state health departments, which found that between August 5 and August 26, there were 505,564 total cases of COVID-19 in children recorded across the nation. What’s even more terrifying is that 203,962 of those positive cases were recorded in just one week. During the same three-week period, the number of children hospitalized for COVID reached its highest point so far in the pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This is all happening as children under age 12 are ineligible to receive any COVID vaccine. Conservative politicians have also turned schools into a particularly contentious battleground, there they’re waging culture wars against mask mandates, happily putting kids at greater risk for their own political gain. A number of states (naturally all led by Republicans) have gone so far as to ban mask mandates in their schools, though several of those bans are being challenged in the courts or investigated for violating the rights of disabled students.
There is one tiny silver lining: This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that the FDA is aiming to grant emergency use authorization to a vaccine for kids under 12 by the end of the month.
“We should have enough of the data to examine and make a decision as we get into late September, the beginning of October,” he said. “Then the data will be presented to the FDA, and the FDA will make a determination whether they will grant that under an emergency use authorization or some other mechanism.”
In the meantime, it’s become clear that we’re failing, miserably, to keep kids safe. If this news doesn’t make school districts rethink implementing mask mandates, they must truly not care for the health and safety of the kids in their care.