The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention is going to be making some changes to their mask guidelines, recommending that schools all over the country mandate mask wearing in the classroom, regardless of a teacher, employee, or student’s vaccination status.
President Joe Biden said in a town hall event last week that the agency is likely to recommend widespread masking in schools, citing an increase in new COVID-19 case counts due to the delta variant. On top of that, COVID-19 vaccines have not received regulatory approval for young children up to 12 years old. Teachers, staff, and students 12 through 18 are expected to be told they should mask up, with exceptions for mealtimes in school.
In the absence of updated CDC masking guidelines for schools in recent weeks, some school districts, such as Atlanta Public Schools, have enacted their own rules. The school district will provide provide surgical-grade masks to all employees and students, and face shields will be available for students and teachers for classes in which “viewing facial expressions is especially important (disabilities).”
Breakthrough cases, or confirmed COVID-19 cases in people who have been vaccinated, are rare but they have raised the concern that the dominant delta strain might evade some protection provided by the shots. For instance, the CDC reported that as of July 19, 5,914 vaccinated patients were hospitalized or died due to COVID-19 infection.
As of right now, roughly about 69 percent of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 60 percent has been fully vaccinated according to federal data.
Two pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, which helped to create the two most effective vaccines, are now working through trials to make the shots available for younger children to be vaccinated.