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Pediatricians group releases new school mask guidance

The American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance that says all students and school staff should wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The new school year is just a few months away and it's expected to look different than last year, now that Oregon has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions. But some precautions, such as masks, may stay in place.

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released guidance on mask wearing in schools this fall. The guidance says all students two years and older and all school staff should wear face masks at school, regardless of vaccination status.

The APP goes further than the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations released earlier this month, which says vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors.

There's still a lot to figure out and school districts KGW contacted are still working on plans for the fall.

For kindergarten teacher Kelli Ryan, the prospect of in-person school is exciting. She teaches in the North Clackamas School District and said she's willing to mask up, especially if it’s for the safety of her students and also so she can be a model for the kids.

“If it's going to help the kids feel comfortable in their masks, then for sure,” said Ryan.

Parent Smitha Chadaga is also excited for in-person learning, so long as people wear masks.

“I have to say I completely agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics and I was relieved to see them say that,” Chadaga said.

Chadaga also happens to be a doctor and she's kept an eye on news about the delta variant.

“It's 200% more transmissible. It has a very high viral load and in school, much of the people who are in schools, which are children, they're not eligible for vaccine,” said Chadaga.

Right now, only kids who are 12 and older are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“If you're in a school that's primarily K-5 no one would be eligible potentially, to be vaccinated, outside of the staff,” Chadaga said.

Meantime, Ryan is also worried about the delta variant and how it could impact kids.

“All the students I teach and come in contact with throughout the day will be unvaccinated,” said Ryan.

As districts work to come up with new guidance around health and safety in schools, Ryan is willing to roll with whatever comes her way.

“We made it through this year. We can make it through anything, I think,” Ryan said.

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