Interim Chicago Public Schools CEO José Torres told Chicago families of the development Thursday, and the only exceptions to the rule would be while eating or during outdoor activities.
“Based on feedback from our public health experts at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, we will require that masks/cloth face coverings continue to be worn indoors by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, except for while eating or drinking,” Torres wrote in the correspondence.
“Continuing to require masks will help make sure those in our school communities who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which encompasses the majority of our students, remain as safe as possible," Torres added.
The school system will reduce required social distancing from 6 feet to 3 feet in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, though the mask policy is at odds with advice from the government body.
Those with both shots should be exempt from face covering requirements in most circumstances, the CDC announced in May.
However, Torres referenced statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advised schools Monday to enforce mask policies for students over the age of 2, regardless of vaccine status. Emergency use shots have been approved for ages 12 and older, while young children have yet to see approval to begin receiving the doses. The AAP cited the lack of approval for its decision.
"A significant portion" of students nationwide are not eligible for vaccination, the AAP said.
"It's important to use every tool in our toolkit to safeguard children from COVID-19," said Sara Bode, chairwoman-elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee, in a statement. "Universal masking is one of those tools, and has been proven effective in protecting people against other respiratory diseases, as well. It's also the most effective strategy to create consistent messages and expectations among students without the added burden of needing to monitor everyone's vaccination status."
Forty-seven percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, according to city data. Slightly more than one-third of the group has been fully vaccinated, though children continue to make up a small portion of virus-related deaths nationwide.
As of July 15, children made up 0% to 0.26% of all COVID-19 deaths, while 0% to .03% of all child coronavirus positives resulted in death, the latest data from AAP revealed.
Neither CPS nor the Chicago Teachers Union immediately responded to requests for comment from the Washington Examiner.
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Original Author: Jake Dima