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Pediatrics group recommends masks in schools for children 2 and up, regardless of vaccine status

With the COVID-19 Delta variant on the rise, the American Academy of Pediatrics says all students older than 2 and school staff, should wear masks.

MACON, Ga. — With teachers and students preparing for another year, a national doctors group says everybody should mask up in school. 

We spoke to a parent, a high-schooler, and a local pediatrician for reaction.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging students to wear masks for the 2021-22 school year.

Scyrece Mitchell of Macon, a mom of three, will send her oldest off to kindergarten soon.

"I am excited for the kids to be back in school this year," said Mitchell. "It put a lot of kids behind."

She says her daughter and her peers should be wearing masks at school.

Mitchell said, "COVID-19 is back on the rise and I think it's important they need to be protected, especially in elementary school. There are germs everywhere."

With the COVID-19 Delta variant on the rise and kids under 12 still unable to get a vaccine, the American Academy of Pediatrics says all students older than 2 years old and school staff should wear masks.

This includes even those who are vaccinated, which differs from the CDC's guidance.

Doctor Jason Smith of Primary Pediatrics in Macon agrees.

"Regardless of COVID-19, we didn't see flu, we didn't see other respiratory illness, so it definitely protects against that as well," said Dr. Smith.

Jones County High School senior Gloria Beal is asthmatic and doesn't want to wear a mask.

Beal said, "If I didn't have to, then I would not wear one, but I am happy to be back in person there with my friends, and if they feel like the need that they want me to wear a mask, then I will wear one around them."

Mitchell also said, "I am excited that they're back, learning and getting to be with their friends and family, but at the same time, we need to stay protected and protect our kids."

We spoke to some other parents, too.

They hope the masks will also protect their kids from Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu.

Bibb County schools is "strongly encouraging" all students and staff wear masks in school.

Houston County schools say, as of Tuesday, masks will be optional for students, staff, and visitors. 

Baldwin County's Board of Education is voting Tuesday night.

In addition, as we told you in a recent Verify, under federal law, all students must wear a mask on the school bus.

Taking a closer look at what the CDC recommends to prevent coronavirus in K through 12 schools, firstly, the CDC says vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy against the virus. 

They recommend everyone within school systems who is eligible should get their shots.

Of course, that's not possible for all school-age children yet. 

That's why the CDC still recommends schools maintain 3 feet of physical distance between students. 

They also recommend any who is not fully vaccinated wear masks. 

Other prevention strategies include hand-washing, cleaning and disinfection, and staying home when sick.

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