Southern schools scramble as CDC recommends masks for all K-12 students

Coronavirus

ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Just three months after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks at schools or summer camps, it changed course after the sharp rise in delta variant cases.

The CDC emphasizes in-person learning and said even if a person is vaccinated, he or she should get tested for COVID-19 if he or she comes in to contact with someone who tests positive or exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.

As students and teachers head back to the classroom, the CDC is recommending everyone to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status because of the highly contagious delta variant.

“We are seeing a tremendous increase in the number of children diagnosed with COVID-19 each day. We were told to anticipate (the cases as) the delta variant,” Lisa Morgan, the President of Georgia Association of Educators said. “As viruses mutate, we get a new strand and it’s more contagious, and that’s why we are doing we can to protect those who are coming into school settings.”

Right now, only students older than 12 can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We must listen to the experts in public health, and they are recommending that we wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and improve ventilation and be vaccinated,” Morgan said.

Georgia’s Department of Health said only 13-percent of children between 10 and 14 are vaccinated, and 33-percent of adolescence between 15 and 19 have received the shot.

“The average cases was 28 for birth to 17, but over the past few weeks that has gone to 200+ cases a day,” Morgan said. “We are in the same risk we were last summer.”

But, as local school boards decide on how to manage this policy, teachers are being asked to increase ventilation and stagger desks to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“If you are in a region that has a low prevalence people are masking in public, it’s all about the context of the school,” Infectious Disease Expert at Emory University, Dr. Colleen Kraft said.

Georgia’s Department of Public Health says 6 out of 10 Georgians are still not fully vaccinated, and many of their kids are likely the ones not getting the shot.

The Department of Public Health released the following statement:

“Many of these kids have parents who are not vaccinated and won’t vaccinate their children either. DPH has a statewide media campaign with AAP encouraging vaccination among kids 12+ and we have been working with pediatricians to promote vaccination for COVID at the same time kids come in for other vaccinations. Many of the health districts are actively involved with schools hosting vaccine clinics or participating in back to school events promoting vaccination.”

— NANCY NYDAM

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