The Bulletin Board

American Academy of Pediatrics says even vaccinated students should wear masks

By: - July 20, 2021 12:41 pm
Students in a classroom

The recommendation from the AAP, issued Monday, differs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s July 9 guidance. (Getty Images)

When schools reopen, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending everyone over the age of 2 wears a mask, even if they have been vaccinated. So far, state public health officials have not adopted that recommendation and local policies differ among districts.

The recommendation from the AAP, issued Monday, differs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s July 9 guidance that everyone over age 2 wear a mask if they have not been vaccinated. State public health officials could not be immediately reached but throughout the pandemic have urged school districts, which set their own policies, to follow CDC guidelines.

School districts have not had time to respond to Monday’s recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, but some have recently announced mask rules for next school year. 

The Salem School District said last week that if state coronavirus cases remain low, it will not only make masks optional for its 3,500 students and staff but also pare back other safety protocols, such as removing plexiglass barriers between desks. (In the last month, there have been 25 or fewer cases reported each day, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.) The Manchester School District, the state’s largest district with 13,500 students, said in June masks will be required while moving about the school but optional in classrooms. 

All school districts were required to file a reopening plan, including a mask policy, with the state Department of Education, which has made them public on its website. 

Londonderry, Timberlane, Henniker, and Laconia are among the schools that have said they will continue requiring masks for unvaccinated students. Epping said it does not plan to require masks but said younger students not eligible for vaccination “may need them.” The Oyster River School District in Durham said it will require masks for students in pre-kindergarten to age 11, an age group not yet eligible for vaccination, but not for high school students. 

The New Hampshire chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics generally passes along guidance from the national office, said Executive Director Catrina Watson. The board has not met to discuss its position on the latest guidance since its release Monday.

Mask policies have been controversial across the state, including in schools. Parents have sued at least five school districts over their policies.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.

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