Coronavirus, Education, Health

As COVID Cases Rise, Ga. Pediatricians Urge Schools To Require Masks, Tighten Safety Measures

The Georgia chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics sent an open letter to school superintendents asking them to require face coverings in buildings.
The Georgia chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics sent an open letter to school superintendents asking them to require face coverings in buildings.
Credit Alfonso Whitfield / WABE

Updated on Aug. 8, at 10:30 a.m. 

The Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote an open letter to local school superintendents recently offering guidance on how to safely reopen schools amidst a rise in COVID-19 cases. The letter urges superintendents to require all staff and students over the age of two to wear masks regardless of whether they’ve received the vaccine.

The guidelines aligned with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Shortly after the letter was issued, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to include similar recommendations for K-12 schools.

Still, some metro Atlanta school districts, like Cobb and Marietta, in some cases will let students and staff decide whether to wear face coverings in schools. DeKalb, Gwinnett, Clayton, and Atlanta Public Schools require everyone to wear masks. Fulton will require masks in areas where transmission rates are high.

WABE spoke with Dr. Hugo Scornik, the president of the Georgia chapter of the AAP, about the recommendations included in the organization’s letter. He urges schools and districts to be vigilant about COVID protocols and debunks the myth that children aren’t at risk for getting the virus.

“As a pediatrician, that’s the most common misconception I hear,” Scornik says. “Parents tell me, ‘Oh, kids can’t catch COVID’ or ‘If they catch it, they’re always going to be fine.’ Unfortunately, that’s not true.”

He also talks about steps parents should take to prepare students for returning to in-person classroom environments.

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