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American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Universal Masking in Schools, but not Everyone Agrees

Some Argue the Guidelines should be made Locally
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Posted at 11:34 PM, Jul 19, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Across New York State there has been a slight uptick in COVID-19 positivity rates. Here in Western New York, the rate has gone from .57% to 1.36% positivity in a week.

“More infectious variant circulating our area, people interacting more, packaged together with a major holiday, are certainly the factors that are responsible for this bump in cases,” Dr. Thomas Russo from the UB Jacobs School of Medicine said.

But Dr. Russo said the increase is not cause for concern as vaccination rates in the area are high. 60% of Erie County residents have received at least their first dose. But on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended universal masking in schools for children over two.

“Part of this recommendation is based on the fact that a large amount of that student population is unvaccinated,” Dr. Russo said.

With all the new guidance that’s come out, both parents and the superintendent of the Niagara Falls City School District said they don’t want to go backwards in all the progress they’ve made this past year

“It was really quite shocking that they weren’t taking into account vaccination status,” Parent advocate Tarja Parssinen said.

“You have to be careful about making generalizations and sweeping statements and pronouncements based on what’s happening in other parts of the country,” Superindendent Mark Laurrie said.

Dr. Russo argues decisions should be made locally – with broader guidance in mind.

“It may not necessarily be applicable for a community with higher vaccination rate and a lower community burden of disease,” Dr. Russo said.

Mark Laurrie said his school district has not had a single covid-19 case throughout summer school, with an optional mask policy.

“If the numbers start to rise, we’ve done it before, we can stop and say you know what, everybody is masked again.”

Parssinen has two children.

“We’re all anxiously waiting for New York State education department and the New York State health department to issue their guidance,” Parssinen said.

Still, one thing Laurrie said with certainty, he has no intent of going back to remote learning.

“That’s an extreme, extreme measure right now that I am not in support of,” Laurrie said.