Schools & COVID: Health planning as cases spike again ahead of upcoming school year

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The American Academy of Pediatrics announced new recommendations pertaining to students, as districts across the Mid-South gearing up for the upcoming school year.

The recommendations include prioritizing getting children back into a physical classroom, and it highlights the physical, mental and emotional toll the pandemic has taken on children.

But as students and teachers return to the classroom, the AAP also recommends a layered approach to keeping children safe, which includes vaccinations for those eligible and everyone over the age of two, to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. 

“AAP recommends universal masking because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines, and masking is proven to reduce transmission of the virus and to protect those who are not vaccinated.”

Partial statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist spoke with WREG-TV about the recommendation.

“So I think it makes sense as we open up schools and really start back here that we’re a little extra careful at first. We see what those numbers are, and if it looks good and we’re doing well, we can slowly back off,” said Threlkeld. “I think most school officials should consider masking particularly in the young unvaccinated kids who aren’t really fully protected from this, initially. How long, we go with that, I think will just depend on what we see for community transmission and what we see in the classroom.

WREG reached out to districts in Shelby County as well as DeSoto County to see what their masking policies will be as we get ready to start school.

Germantown and Collierville Schools told us they’re still in the planning phase.

SCS said their team is finalizing details and hope to share information soon.

Lakeland Schools said masks will remain optional.

A spokesperson with DeSoto County Schools told us, there are not any state mandates at this time regarding masks or vaccinations for Mississippi school districts. If any mandates are issued, parents will be notified.

Millington Schools says masks will be optional as well.

For Arlington Schools, masks will be optional.

We’re waiting to hear back from Bartlett.

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