The Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AzAAP) provided a statement today, July 26, 2021, about how schools can reopen and keep students and staff safe and physically in school all year. We've given you a quick overview of the information and our recommendations. Our goal is to get all the kids back to in person learning and school activities safely with their friends and keep them there all year long!
The COVID numbers have gone up dramatically in the last 3 weeks and we are quite anxious as to what is going to happen when all the kids pile back into the school building. As any pediatrician can tell you, in years past within 2-3 weeks of school starting we see a huge influx of sick kiddos with strep, flu, colds, pink eye-you name it. Since the pandemic started, kids were masked, separated, and many stayed home and we didn't see much influenza, no RSV until this summer, and not much strep or pink eye. It was so weird ! We really don't know what is going to happen once they get together this year, but here are our recommendations.
1. All those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine should get it. This is our best defense. This includes kids 12 years old and up.
2. All families should call their pediatricians office and make sure their kiddos are up to date on their routine childhood vaccines.
3. Here's the toughest recommendation. All those 2 years old and up including school staff, regardless of whether they are COVID vaccinated, should wear a mask while indoors or outdoors if it is crowded. This excludes those with developmental delays and those who are unable to wear a mask due to a significant medical issue.
But you ask, didn't the AZ legislature say "no mask mandates in school"? Yes, the school cannot require anyone to wear a mask. But, if a staff member or student want to wear a mask they can.
Next question, why should a vaccinated person wear a mask? It is difficult to monitor who has had the COVID-19 vaccine and who hasn't, so to be uniform and protect everyone, the current advice is everyone wear a mask indoors and outside if it is really crowded (but not while playing sports). Wearing a mask will also prevent other illnesses such as strep, flu, RSV, and the common cold.
4. If anyone is ill, stay home and talk to your doctor about getting tested for COVID and what your treatment should be.
5. Anyone who has not had the COVID-19 vaccine who is exposed to COVID needs to quarantine according to the local public health department recommendations.
6. Anyone who has had the COVID-19 vaccine that is exposed to COVID but has no symptoms does not need to quarantine.
We are happy to answer any and all your questions and will do our very best to stay on top of the latest scientific recommendations. We really urge our patients to go to school in person and be with their friends and teachers and have an amazing year!
Here is the link to the AzAAP recommendations in case you are interested.