BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends face masks for all individuals in schools, whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

The organization’s letter to Governor John Bel Edwards said they strongly recommend “universal masking while indoors in the school setting.”

The mask mandate went into effect on Aug. 2 for all individuals ages five and older.

“I’m very appreciative of the Louisiana AAP and its support,” said Gov. Edwards. “Pediatricians know first-hand how the Delta variant of COVID-19 is impacting our children unlike any other variant before. No child under age 12 is eligible to receive a vaccine, which is why universal masking is one of the best tools to help protect them, teachers and support staff as they all head back to school. Our children are among our most vulnerable, and keeping them safe while in school should be a priority for all of us. In-person learning is important for our children, and wearing masks indoors is critical to making certain our schools stay safe and open.”   

The Louisiana AAP cited multiple reasons for the recommendation in their letter, including:

  • A significant portion of the student population is not currently eligible for vaccination.
  • Masking provides the best protection of unvaccinated students and teachers from COVID-19 and reduces transmission.
  • Many schools lack of a system to monitor vaccine status among students, teachers, and staff making policy based on vaccine status impractical.
  • Universal masking is the best and most effective strategy to create consistent messages, expectations, enforcement, and compliance without an added burden upon our teachers.
  • Vaccination rates in Louisiana remain low and are inadequate to provide herd immunity at this time.
  • As the pandemic continues, there is growing concern that variants could emerge that could cause more severe disease. Masks remain an important mitigation strategy to reduce the likelihood of this occurring.
  • The Delta variant is eight times more contagious than the novel COVID-19

“As advocates for children, we are concerned about the health and well-being of every child,” the organization wrote. “We know that vaccines, masking and social distancing are the best ways to protect them from COVID-19.”

To read the full letter, click here.