With a new school year about to begin and multiple variants of COVID-19 surging at once, pediatricians have a prescription for Florida schools: Universal masking.
The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued on Thursday an unambiguous argument for face coverings and distancing.
Primary to the pediatricians’ case is the fact that vaccines aren’t available for many children attending K-12 schools.
“Since children under 12 years of age are still not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine will most likely not be available for this age group until winter of 2021, most children are still at risk for Coronavirus infection and transmitting the infection to others,” the group asserted, noting that both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend masking in schools.
“The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) supports the continued, universal use of masks and physical distancing in schools by all individuals including students, faculty members, and staff through the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Masking should be in addition to the continuation of testing protocols in schools to mitigate the spread of infection. Finally, and most importantly, FCAAP recommends that all vaccine eligible children, faculty, and staff in schools should be vaccinated.”
The plea for mandatory masks comes the same week after DeSantis held a roundtable in which all panelists made the case against masking in schools.
This should absolutely not be proposed,” DeSantis said, noting a Special Session might be necessary to “protect these kids who just want to be able to breathe freely.”
DeSantis discussed the Jacksonville Classical Academy, a charter school he visited which went mask-free last year and “let kids be kids” without too much “extreme social distancing.”
“The results were, I don’t know that they had any more, but they probably had less COVID cases than other schools who did the opposite,” the Governor contended.
Panelists took even a harder line.
“My position is simple. Masking children is child abuse,” asserted Dr. Mark McDonald, a psychiatrist from California.
DeSantis went on to note the “unspeakable burdens” of virus precautions, expressing worry about “long-term implications” for the youngsters.
As DeSantis seeks a normal year for children in schools, the pandemic continues to wreak abnormal havoc. The Florida Department of Health reported 6,999 cases for those 12 and under in the week ending July 22. 7,346 more cases were confirmed for those between 13 and 19.
Tellingly, DeSantis had calls with leadership of the House and Senate Thursday. He has suggested legislative interest in a ban of vaccine and mask mandates in a Special Session, and clearly the lines of communication are open.