Dr. Fauci says masks should stay on in the classroom

U.S. & World

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

(NEXSTAR) — The nation’s top infectious disease expert is suggesting parents follow new COVID-19 guidance for mask-wearing issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The academy is recommending schools require face masks for children older than 2 and all adults regardless of vaccination status. Dr. Anthony Fauci told “CBS This Morning” the academy wants to “go the extra mile” to make sure kids are protected at school because of the rise in cases blamed on the delta variant of the coronavirus.

That guidance is slightly different from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has advised mask-wearing in schools just for unvaccinated children and adults.

Fauci says the CDC is “carefully looking” at its COVID-19 school guidance.

In a congressional hearing Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the Delta variant – first identified in India – now makes up an estimated 83% of new COVID-19 cases in the United States. That figure is up from 50% the week of July 3.

The U.S. has seen a string of COVID-19 outbreaks tied to summer camps in recent weeks in places such as Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri and Kansas in what some fear could be a preview of the upcoming school year.

In some cases, the outbreaks have spread from the camp to the broader community.

The clusters have come as the number of newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. has reversed course, surging more than 60% in the first two weeks of July from an average of about 12,000 a day to around 19,500, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The rise in many places has been blamed on too many unvaccinated people and the highly contagious delta variant.

Ahead of the school year, the CDC updated its guidance this month to say vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside and 3-foot distancing of desks is not necessary for the fully vaccinated.

Last week, California announced rules for public schools that let students and teachers sit as close to each other as they want but still require them to wear masks. Other state and district officials have adopted a patchwork of coronavirus regulations for schools.

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