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All children — whether vaccinated or not — should wear masks for upcoming school year, say American Academy of Pediatrics; Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees

Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced Monday that it recommends all children over the age of 2 years wear masks as they return for the 2021-22 school year whether or not they are vaccinated, NBC News reports.

What are the details?

In a statement, the organization said that the new guidance is a "layered approach" to protecting children and makes sense because a good portion of the school-age population is yet to be vaccinated.

At the time of this reporting, children age 12 years and over are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.

"We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers," said Sonja O'Leary, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health. "Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking, and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone."

O'Leary added that children should also receive an annual flu shot in order to tamp down the spread of influenza amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The last thing we want as we come out of this pandemic is an outbreak of another vaccine-preventable disease," said O'Leary. "Now is the time for all of us to work together to keep our kids healthy and safe."

The Food and Drug Administration last week said that emergency authorization for children age 12 years and younger could come as early as midwinter.

What did Dr. Fauci say?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading infectious diseases expert at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the AAP's guidance is reasonable.

"When you have a degree of viral dynamics in the community, and you have a substantial proportion of the population that is unvaccinated, that you really want to go the extra step, the extra mile to make sure that there's not a lot of transmission, even breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals," he said.

"I think that the American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, they're a thoughtful group, they analyze the situation, and if they feel that that's the way to go go, I think that's a reasonable thing to do," he added.

Earlier in July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance stating that it doesn't believe vaccinated students need to wear a mask in the classroom.

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