(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) With one month until students head back to school, two national health organizations are offering different mask recommendations for the upcoming school year.
Parents, add masks to your back-to-school list. That's the newest guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
New guidance this week from the AAP, the nation's leading association of pediatricians, recommended a universal masking approach for schools reopening this fall semester. The release called for all students over the age of 2-years-old to wear a face covering.
However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has offered a more relaxed guidance.
The guidelines released by the CDC for the upcoming school year recommended mask usage for unvaccinated staff and students.
"I definitely would stand behind the AAP recommendation of masking, for sure," said Amanda Williams, DO, Pediatrician for Peacock Pediatrics.
Pediatricians from Peacock Pediatrics are siding with the universal masking recommendation. Dr. Williams said heading into another school year during the COVID-19 pandemic era, having staff and students unmasked is not worth the risk. “It’s important to put in as many layers of protection as we can to help children get in school and stay in school."
With Buchanan County trailing behind all 15 counties in Northwest Missouri, health experts said now is not the time to let up on mitigation policies in place to protect children from infection.
Children under the age of 12-years-old cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re not gearing up for round two, right? Round two is here. Hospital numbers are back up, we’re seeing tons of sick kids. It’s July and these numbers of sick children are unprecedented in July," said Dr. Williams
The resurgence of COVID-19 in Buchanan County is putting a dark cloud over the upcoming school year as area school districts plan their safety procedures.
Mid-Buchanan R-V tentatively said they plan on making masks optional. Last year, masks were mandatory for both students and staff.
“I do feel it could be a struggle for staff, students and parents to see the mitigation strategies have to come back in and I completely understand that,” said Jay Albright, Superintendent for Mid-Buchanan R-V.
Albright said he was impressed with how well students and teachers adjusted to face coverings last year. He said the district hardly had any issues enforcing masks.
However, after the elated feeling of watching COVID-19 case numbers drop this spring, Albright worries how difficult it could be to re-introduce masks once again this fall but are prepared to do so, if necessary.
“Certainly sad that we are back on this track,” said Albright.