CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is calling for masking in a school setting for all children ages 2 and up. Simultaneously, local school districts are deciding on their COVID-19 guidelines for the upcoming school year.
The State College Area School District School Board voted on their 2021-2022 Health and Safety Plan following public comment. The AAP’s recommendation was brought into their discussion, with the overall message that they want students to be both educated and safe.
“What we’re talking about is the public health needs of our community and public health means the whole public,” said Amy Bader, vice president of the State College Area School Board.
The board approved that students who can provide proof of vaccination will not be required to mask indoors, and unvaccinated students will be required to mask indoors. For a detailed look at the plan, click here.
Dr. Swathi Gowtham of Geisinger specializes in pediatric infectious diseases and said she thinks the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation will streamline efforts and remove confusion or barriers of identifying who is vaccinated and who is not.
“The entire point of this is so that we can avoid outbreaks within schools, and we can teach children, keep them in-person, and teach them safely,” said Dr. Gowtham. “That’s what masking, among other things like vaccination and social distancing and screening for symptoms and things like that, it’s an entire package or bundle of protective measures that will keep children in schools.”
Currently, children under 12 years old are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Gowtham says approval may come from the FDA in September.