Even After Teachers, Staff Vaccinated, 2-Year-Olds Should Wear Masks, CDC Says
Child mask
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In new guidance that was released on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that even after teachers and staff have been fully vaccinated, children as young as two should still be required to wear masks at day-care centers and schools.

In a section titled “COVID-19 Vaccination,” the CDC wrote: “Even after child care providers and staff are vaccinated, there will be a need to continue prevention measures for the foreseeable future including wearing masks, physical distancing, and other important prevention strategies outlined in this guidance document.” CDC added later in a section titled “Promoting Behaviors that Reduce Spread of COVID-19”:

Wearing Masks

  • Everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask covering their mouth and nose when around people who do not live in their household, except when eating or sleeping.
  • Teach and reinforce the consistent and correct use of masks for all staff and children aged 2 years and older.
  • A mask is NOT a substitute for physical distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to physical distancing.Wearing a mask is especially important indoors and when physical distancing is difficult to implement or maintain while providing care to young children.

“The CDC’s guidance says that while jungle gyms, swingsets, and tricycles ‘are important for healthy child development,’ they nevertheless ‘pose a risk for spreading COVID-19,’” Robby Soave noted in Reason. “Health officials recommend getting rid of play spaces that allow kids to interact closely, and also separating the kids into smaller groups—with fences if necessary.”

The guidance provides the following instructions for outdoor activity (formatting adjusted):

Communal outdoor spaces, such as playgrounds (play structures, jungle gyms, swing sets) and play spaces with shared toys or equipment (for example balls, tricycles, toy cars) are important for healthy child development, but can pose a risk for spreading COVID-19. Even though outdoor spaces reduce risk of spreading COVID-19, the virus can still spread when young children touch contaminated objects, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. Preventive behaviors such as wearing a mask, handwashing, and cohorting are needed. […]

Consider restricting your use of play structures or equipment that position children close by one another (for example facing each other on a tire swing, crawling close together in tunnels, or enclosed with one another in fort-type structures.)

Stagger your use of playgrounds and play spaces by reducing the group size in the play area at one time or remaining in cohorted groups while sanitizing shared objects and high touch surfaces between groups.

If multiple cohort groups need to be in your play area at the same time, consider using fencing or another barrier to designate separate areas for each cohort.

The guidance states, “Masks should be used in both indoor and outdoor spaces by child care program staff and children over the age of 2.”

On Friday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky stated:

As we learn more about the virus, CDC experts updated that guidance several times throughout 2020. Science includes additional evidence showing that, when used consistently and correctly, prevention strategies such as mask-wearing, staying home when sick, and good hand hygiene can allow childcare programs to operate safely and reduce the spread of COVID-19. … I also want to stress that our childcare guidance emphasizes the importance of COVID-19 vaccination as an additional layer of prevention for childcare workers. I strongly encourage America’s childcare workers to get vaccinated.

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