4 News Now Q&A: Will kids wear face masks when they return to school in the fall?

Your Questions Answered

Q: Will kids wear face masks when they return to school in the fall? 

A: It’s a big question on the minds of so many parents, students and teachers around the nation. Now, the CDC has signaled it may lift that recommendation over the summer.

The agency currently recommends students wear masks inside the classroom. But according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, vaccination rates among children could change that.

“What we have seen is that when older folks got vaccinated, that the virus did move to younger demographics,” Dr. Walensky said. “So early on in our vaccination efforts, we were really seeing more disease in our older teen, our younger 20s and in that demographic. As we’re starting to get those people vaccinated, we will be revisiting this in our school guidance.”

Pfizer’s COVID vaccine is currently approved by the FDA for children as young as 12 years old, but not younger. However, Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci is “cautiously optimistic” children younger than 12 will be eligible to get a vaccine by Thanksgiving.

“We are now doing studies that are ongoing as we’re speaking, studies that are looking at what we call age de-escalation, children from 12 to 9 and then 9 to 6 and then 6 to 2 and then 6 months to 2 years,” Dr. Fauci said. “We hope that as we approach the end of this calendar year, we’ll have enough information to vaccinate children of any age.”

Children younger than 12 are far less likely to have severe cases of COVID, but they can still get infected and spread it to others. According to Dr. Fauci, children in communities that have high levels of infections will likely still have to wear masks next school year.

The CDC considers a county to have “high” transmission if there have been 100 or more cases of COVID per 100,000 residents, or a test positivity rate of 10 percent or high over, the past seven days.

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