Schools in the United States should continue to use masks for the 2020-2021 school year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Saturday.
The CDC in its latest guidance said all kindergarten through grade 12 schools “should implement and layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing.”
The CDC said masks should be worn at all times by all people in school facilities and buses, while maintaining a six foot distance between teachers and students.
Earlier this month U.S. regulators authorized Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12 years old.
The health panel on Thursday advised that fully vaccinated people against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places. The updated guidance, the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.
The CDC also said fully vaccinated people will not need to physically distance in most places. The agency also hopes the guidance will prod more Americans to get vaccinated.
The revised guidance is a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, but the agency still recommends vaccinated people wear masks on planes and trains, and at airports, transit hubs, mass transit and in places like hospitals and doctor’s offices.
The CDC said fully vaccinated people should still wear masks where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, and abide by such rules and regulations, including from local businesses and workplace guidance.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the new guidance just two weeks after its most recent update, was based on a sharp reduction in cases, expansion of vaccines to younger people and vaccine efficacy against coronavirus variants.
“We followed the science here,” Walensky said adding, “a coalescence of more science that has emerged just in the last week.”
— Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru.