Face masks not recommended for elementary school students, pediatric group says

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As more and more school districts are putting out their coronavirus health guidelines for the fall, they are tackling the issue of masks for younger kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends face coverings for middle and high school grades but not elementary school kids.

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In order to gauge a child's feeling towards wearing a face covering, ABC7's Lyanne Melendez went to the source and spoke to Kip and Alden, a pair of second graders.

"It's sort of annoying because when you are running it keeps slipping down and you get really hot and sweaty," explained Kip who was wearing a black face covering.

"It's hard to breathe because it's blocking most of the air that is supposed to get in your mouth," added Alden.

Dervala Hanley is an Oakland mother who has an incoming kindergartener. She says masks in the classroom are not practical for younger kids.

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If everyone wore a mask, Dr. Bob Wachter said California would squash the surge of new coronavirus cases it's seeing right now. The state is seeing new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations climb every day.



"We gave up on masks in about ten minutes and we gave up on staying six feet apart, there is no way they are going to distance," said Hanley.

The American Academy of Pediatrics surprised everyone when it stated that, "Schools are probably not greatly amplifying the spread of the virus."

The group went even further recommending "elementary school grades focus on hand washing and use outdoor spaces when possible."

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Doctor Sam Dominguez is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Children's Hospital Colorado.

"In some instances, it may be counterproductive, so if you have a face mask and you are actually fidgeting with your masks all the time and touching your face more, pulling it down and up, that act could potentially lead to more transmission as opposed to less transmission," said Dr. Dominguez.

AAP says only middle and high school grades should be required to cover their face if a six-foot distance cannot be maintained.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education issued its guidelines for schools which says elementary school students should be encouraged but not required to wear a cloth face-covering in the classroom.

The American Academy of Pediatrics guides tens of thousands of pediatricians. These recommendations are expected to influence the decision-making process of school districts across the county.

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