WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended that vaccinated people wear masks indoors in K-12 schools amid a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, weeks before students are set to return to schools.
“CDC recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a news briefing Tuesday. “Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place.”
Earlier this month, health officials released guidelines which said that students who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 would not have to wear face masks when school starts in the fall unless they were riding a school bus.
In the recommendations, the CDC said unvaccinated students and staff members should continue to wear masks indoors.
The new guidance comes as health officials nationwide grapple with a spike in reported COVID-19 cases driven by the highly-transmissible delta variant. The CDC also updated its guidance Tuesday to recommend that vaccinated people wear masks indoors “in areas with substantial or high transmission” of COVID-19, Walensky said.
Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all children age 2 and older wear masks in school, regardless of their vaccination statuses.
“Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone,” Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said in a statement released July 19.
About 34.5 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the U.S., resulting in more than 611,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 194.9 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in over 4.1 million deaths.
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