New CDC guidance recommends universal mask-wearing in schools
COVID-19 School Safety
Date Posted: 7/27/2021
With COVID-19 cases spiking around the country, including here in Texas, the U.S. Centers for Diseease Control (CDC) held a press conference Tuesday, July 27, 2021, to announce new recommendations for vaccinated people and updated guidance for K-12 schools. The school-related guidance includes a universal masking recommendation for all, reversing course from CDC guidance earlier in July that said it was not necessary for fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask except in unusual circumstances.
Tuesday's CDC announcement comes just weeks before students are set to return to school in most places and on the heels of a similar recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that we reported on last week here on Teach the Vote.
According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to be the predominant variant in the country, currently representing 8 of 10 cases. Dr. Walensky expressed that the variant is unique, behaving differently from other strains such as the former Alpha variant, and can be spread even by vaccinated individuals in some rare cases. The risk of a breakthrough infection with symptoms is reduced seven-fold, and the risk of hospitalization or death is reduced 20-fold for vaccinated individuals, according to Walensky.
In areas with high or substantial transmission rates, the CDC's recommendation is for fully vaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect others. This includes school settings. Accordingly, the CDC placed the following update on its website Tuesday afternoon:
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.
The CDC continues to recommend that students should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place. During the Q and A portion of the Tuesday press conference, Dr. Walensky reiterated that the vaccine is still highly effective against the Delta variant and the importance of taking all safety measure possible to get and keep students back at school in-person.
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