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CDC clarifies: Schools must continue to make kids wear masks for now

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The U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention clarified over the weekend that its new guidance on mask-wearing does not apply to American schools, which should continue to mandate masks for kids and social distancing through the end of the current school year.

Last week, the CDC said that Americans who've been vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors because they've been protected from the virus and will not get sick. But K-12 schools should continue to impose mask-wearing through the end of the 2020-21 school year, the CDC said Saturday.

"Our school guidance to complete the school year will not change," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Fox News on Sunday. She also said the agency will update its school guidance for the fall sometime during summer break.

"We need to update our school guidance, child care guidance, travel guidance — we have a lot of work that we need to do, " Walensky said. "We are actively working on that now."

She also said on CNN that the CDC will not be changing its guidance on mask-wearing in schools because "most kids will not be vaccinated or fully vaccinated before the end of this year."

The FDA has only authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-17. Any adolescents who get their first shot now will not be fully vaccinated by the end of the current school year in most states since the Pfizer shot requires a three-week break between doses and another two-week buffer after the second shot for people to gain full protection.

According to the New York Times' vaccine tracker, nearly 157.1 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including 123 million people who have received both shots and are fully vaccinated.

Biden administration health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci say it's "very important" for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19, noting that there are rare but serious cases of children contracting the virus and experiencing long-term symptoms for weeks or months after infection. But parents remain hesitant to have their children receive the vaccine.

According to one survey, about 1 in 5 U.S. parents say they will definitely not have their 12-15-year-olds vaccinated even though they are eligible to receive the Pfizer shot.

Children younger than 12 are not yet approved for any coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer and Moderna are each currently conducting trials for their vaccines in children as young as 6 months old.

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