The CDC recently issued guidance that schools continue enforcing COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the rest of the school year as most students aren’t fully vaccinated.
The updated recommendation came on May 15, two days after the agency announced that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.
As only people age 12 and up are currently eligible to receive a COVID vaccine, millions of school-age children are still unprotected from the virus, the agency said.
“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,” the CDC said in its recommendation.
It plans to update its guidance for schools in the coming weeks, according to ABC News.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers — a teachers’ union that has fought for much of the last year to keep classrooms closed despite scientific studies showing little-to-no transmission of the virus occurs in schools — said in a tweet that she believes it is a “good idea to keep vigilant right now on distancing and masks in schools and spend a few minutes trying to figure out how the new @cdc mask guidance affects schools”
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) May 16, 2021
The new guidelines come as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, similarly said last week that children too young to be vaccinated will still have to wear masks when they are indoors and around others “even if older kids and adults are free to take off face protection one they are fully vaccinated,” including in the fall when the school year begins and they’re “out there playing with their friends” and “particularly in an indoor situation.”
Fauci added that children younger than 12 will likely not be vaccinated until the end of the calendar year.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced face masks would no longer be required in secondary school classrooms in England beginning this week.
The country’s Department for Education said “the latest data shows infection rates continuing to decrease” and not having to wear masks would “improve interaction between teachers and students”.
“It’s important to strike a balance between Covid-19 protection and student well-being,” a spokesperson from Public Health England said, according to the BBC, adding that “scientific studies show that Covid-19 transmission in schools remains low.”
In the U.K., 38.2 percent of the adult population has now received both shots of the vaccine, while 47 percent of American adults have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.