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Pediatrics group urges children wear masks when returning to school

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 19:48:21-04

The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] made a recommendation this week urging parents to mask their children over the age of two, in an attempt to keep COVID-19 from spreading and to keep schools open with in-person learning.

The recommendation, issued Sunday, notes that COVID-19 has exhibited a low transmission rate in schools when masks are worn and other public health precautions are correctly followed. Some local students like Ashlyn Cryer, 10, of Bryan ISD, have said they still plan to wear their masks.

"I just don’t want it to spread around," Cryer said. "... I think about older people in my family and people who are sick.”

Many kids attending school and daycare are still too young to be eligible for a vaccine, the AAP stated, and are at risk with new variations of the coronavirus circulating throughout the country.

Alex Quinones, the father of three school-aged children in the Anderson-Shiro Consolidated school district, expressed concern that parents will potentially be sending students to class without masks. As an EMT, Quinones said he has seen too many people still being hurt by respiratory diseases.

"Unfortunately, as a parent, we can’t tell others what to do," he commented. "But I want to protect my child as best as possible from this virus. I know personally from my family, and from working with the virus as well; I know how deadly it can be.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in May, prohibiting public schools from requiring masks on students. Schools like Bryan ISD will be following the governor’s orders, but also will make masks available for families that want them.

“We have some masks left over, that if a student requests a mask, we can give that mask to them," explained Matt LeBlanc, spokesperson for Bryan ISD. "We saw in summer school, and in the power camps that are going on right now, that a lot of students are still wearing masks. But masks will not be mandated at all.”

The AAP noted that in addition to protecting against COVID-19, wearing a mask protects children from other respiratory illnesses that are circulating this time of year. Ultimately, the AAP urges the need to reduce coronavirus outbreaks in order to keep schools open for in-person attendance, as exclusive digital learning created educational barriers for a number of sub-groups of students.

"I don’t like online school," Cryer commented, "... It stresses the teachers out.”

Local school districts such as Caldwell ISD report that they are still deciding on whether to distribute masks to children yet, as they aren’t sure whether students will actually use them.