A child health organization promotes masks in schools; Olmsted’s director of public health intervenes

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ROCHESTER, Minnesota (KTTC) – On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that everyone in school buildings wear masks, whether or not they are vaccinated.

The AAP recommends universal masking because a significant portion of the student body is not yet eligible for vaccines, and masking has been shown to reduce virus transmission and protect those who are not vaccinated. Many schools will not have a system to monitor the immunization status of students, teachers and staff and some communities overall have low immunization where the virus can circulate more extensively.

This recommendation puts pressure on the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which currently recommends only the wearing of unvaccinated masks in schools.

“From a national perspective, it might make sense to say, well, if we have to do something for all the schools, across the country, let’s just say everyone is wearing a mask. the simplest and easiest way to do it, “said Graham Briggs, Olmsted County Public Health Director.

He understands the recommendation, but thinks every state and county is different.

“For us here, if we have a high vaccination rate and we have a low disease rate with cases and we don’t see a lot of activity. It might make sense to have a different conversation here.”

Briggs said the population of Olmsted County is about 64% vaccinated. 77% of people aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated and 78% of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated.

He also said Olmsted County is the second most vaccinated county in terms of population. Cooke County in northern Minnesota rules the state.

On Monday, President Biden’s chief medical adviser told CNN that the AAP’s recommendation was to be “very safe.”

“I think the American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, it’s a thoughtful bunch, they analyze the situation, and if they think that’s the way to go, I think it’s a reasonable thing to do. do, “said Dr Anthony Fauci.

However, implementing such a big change takes a lot of discussion.

“We might end up doing more harm than good if we ask a group of people who are now vaccinated to wear masks again after really talking about the importance of the vaccine,” Briggs said.

The Minnesota Department of Health told KTTC that the health and safety of students, their families, the school, and faculty is a top priority.

The Minnesota Department of Education is working with the Minnesota Department of Health to review CDC recommendations for the coming year. We are in the process of updating our guidelines, which will include recommendations on health and safety measures, including masking. We have no law in Minnesota on this. Regarding requirements, we continued to follow federal requirements, such as masking on public transportation, including school buses.

Briggs is part of the COVID Advisory Team for Rochester Public Schools which analyzes school guidelines and takes all recommendations into consideration.

“Ultimately, the decision will be up to the superintendent and the school district to determine what works for them. But, I think we are still at the stage of collecting and accessing information and providing feedback. use that information to make a decision about using the mask in the fall, “he said.

On Tuesday, July 27, the Rochester School Board will hear from the superintendent on mask recommendations.


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