Is AAP right all children older than 2 should wear masks in school?
- On Monday, July 19, 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggested that “all children over the age of 2” wear masks in school with or without vaccination. Sonja O’Leary, AAP Council on School Health chair said, “We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teacher - we all play a role in making sure it happens safely.”
- The CDC said “fully vaccinated students do not need to wear masks in classrooms this fall” on Friday, July 9, 2021.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by July 15, 2021, the number of coronavirus cases of children totaled 4 million. Of all cases, 0% to .26% were child deaths, with 8 states reporting none.
- There are three COVID vaccines: Pfizer - BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines and require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine in one dose.
- Routine immunizations for children include 14 vaccines for vaccine-preventable diseases like the Chickenpox, Hepatitis, Polio, and Tetanus.
- Potential side effects of vaccines are well-known: fever, headache, dizziness, severe allergic reaction, and seizure. If a child has an allergic reaction to a certain vaccine, the primary care doctor will suspend the following dose.
As it currently stands, many children in America are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as only those older than 12 are permitted to. Additionally, only one of the three vaccines is available to them: the Pfizer shot. This means that not only are most children not able to receive a coronavirus vaccine, but even those who are have a limited selection to choose from. Due to the age requirement for the vaccines and the slow progress of approving vaccines for some younger children, many kids will be returning to school unvaccinated. Therefore, requiring masks in schools will keep students safe until vaccines are made available to them all.
Unfortunately, many children may not understand the importance of taking proper safety precautions to avoid the COVID-19 virus and its variants when not wearing a mask. While older students may know why they can't sit or walk next to their peers mask-free, younger children may not comprehend the importance of social distancing. Social interaction is an essential part of childhood development, and it will be difficult for schools--specifically for teachers--to enforce social distancing instead of mask-wearing. Masks will enable students to interact with their friends, and schools to maintain normal classroom sizes.
Virtual schooling was extremely challenging for students during the past year, and many did not receive the education they needed to thrive. Requiring masks will allow schools to return to in-person classes and stay that way, as masks decrease infection rates. It's essential to allow students to lead as close to normal lives as possible, and masks will get us there.
Just when it seemed like the world was starting to get back to normal from COVID-19, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced its position on children returning to school post-pandemic: all kids over the age of two should wear masks in schools, “regardless of vaccination status.” This seems not only unnecessary but also as if the AAP--and other organizations--are trying to normalize mask-wearing seemingly until the end of time by implementing guidelines to “create consistent messages' about the controversy.
Also, expecting children as young as three, four, five, and above to wear a mask properly throughout the day is simply unrealistic, as even adults resisted doing so throughout the entire pandemic. In many public places, adults, vaccinated or not, are permitted to go mask-less, so it is not fair to require all school children to wear one constantly.
Further, even if children and adolescents are to contract COVID, they are less likely to face complications from the virus. Children’s immune systems should be challenged throughout their development, so being obsessively vigilant about the coronavirus at this point is arguably overkill.
The cons of mask-wearing in children may outweigh the pros, as there have been concerns that wearing masks for long periods of time can cause health issues, both physically and potentially mentally--with the requirement of such even being referred to as ‘child abuse.’ Childhood is a critical time for developing social skills. Children’s faces deserve to be free to breathe, express emotion, and see the smiles on their peers’ faces, which, almost everyone can agree, can be difficult or even impossible to do while wearing a mask.
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