Some Tri-State school districts keeping masking optional following pediatrician group’s recommendation

Coronavirus Watch

(WEHT) The rise in cases leads to the the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending masks continue to be worn this school year.

“We recognize that there are lots of people that are not vaccinated, but it is only recommended that people wear masks,” says Carla Embry of Muhlenberg County Schools.

“We are going to be mask optional,” said Tommy Burrough, Supt. of McLean County Schools.

That’s the plan for masking in those two districts, and others in the Tri-State when students return next month. Districts are finalizing their plans as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks for staff and students as young as two-years-old, regardless of vaccination. The group says a large portion of students are still not vaccine eligible. Dr. April Abbott, Director of Microbiology at Deaconess Health, says symptoms of more contagious Delta variant could also resemble other respiratory illnesses.

“One of the other pieces of that is that the symptoms with the Delta variant are more similar to other respiratory tract infections, so you are going to have those kids that have more congestion and runny noses, things that are more commonly seen with other respiratory viruses compared to some of the other variants that we’ve had with COVID,” she explained.

Earlier this year, the CDC said vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks. School districts in the Owensboro area and in McLean County say mask wearing will remain voluntary.

“It’s basically going to be a parent’s choice, and if we see things that are happening in the district, we’re going to tighten it up, just like we did last year,” says Supt. Burrough.

Educators in several districts including Warrick County in Indiana and Hancock County, Kentucky say they could adjust plans if cases continue rising when the school year starts.

A spokesperson for Owensboro Public Schools tells us they currently have no plans to change how they start their school year based on those recommendations.

(This story was originally published on July 20, 2021)

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