Pediatricians recommend students wear masks during upcoming school year amid COVID surge – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

MIAMI (WSVN) – Rising COVID cases nationwide and across Florida are leading to classroom concerns.

With the start of the school year just weeks away, some pediatricians are now recommending all students go back to wearing masks.

As students get set to return to the classroom, health officials are offering new COVID-19 guidance.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends in-person learning, urging that anyone who is eligible to get a vaccine get one.

But the group is going further, recommending anyone 2 or older to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

“Unfortunately, this business of unvaccinated having to wear masks and vaccinated not having to wear a mask is just not gonna work in schools,” said Dr. Lisa A. Gwynn. “Kids are not going to be required to provide proof, so the only way to — convincingly and equitably — is to have everyone in masks.”

The AAP argued that a large portion of students still aren’t eligible for a vaccine and that masks have been proven to work.

But Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said positive signs like low positivity rates, ample hospital beds and vaccine availability are enough to stick to the original plan.

“On the basis of these three elements, which are still fairly good for Miami-Dade, we are maintaining the position that we announced a couple of weeks ago, which is of mask optional as we return back to school,” Carvalho said.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are surging in the U.S., despite vaccination efforts.

The highly transmissible delta variant is largely responsible for the rise in cases among unvaccinated Americans.

“We’re starting to see spikes in cases,” Gwynn said. “It shouldn’t surprise any of us because only half of the people in this country are vaccinated. The more patients or people who aren’t vaccinated are out there, not wearing masks and acting irresponsibly, the higher the case rates are gonna go.”

Health officials said misinformation about vaccines on social media and elsewhere are playing a role in the surge.

“Their sources for information for why they’re not vaccinated tend to be sources that are not really reliable,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease specialist at Florida International University.

With the school year is just weeks away, officials urge everyone to take proper measures.

“That is the only way to keep kids safe, is by getting kids vaccinated as well as wearing masks,” Gwynn said.

Jackson Health System has upgraded their COVID threat level to “high” at most of its facilities, citing a large increase in COVID patients in the last two weeks. Patient visitors will be restricted starting Wednesday.

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