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Students And Teachers Should Mask Up This School Year, Cincinnati Children's Says

student with mask at school

Respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, are on the rise and masking is one preventative measure.

With transmission of COVID-19's delta variant increasing in the Tri-State, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is recommending "that all children returning to in-person school wear masks, regardless of vaccination status."

Chief of Staff Patty Manning, MD, says she knows the recommendation won't be popular with a lot of people, but it is necessary in combination with other safety measures like vaccines, social distancing and cleaning.

"I don't think any of us wanted to be here and have to make recommendations for the next school year but this is where we are and we have done this before and we can do it again to keep everybody safe," she says.

Children's is also recommending teachers and staff mask up to protect themselves and their students as well as to set a good example.

Joshua Schaffzin, MD, Ph.D., director of Infection Prevention & Control at Cincinnati Children's, says our teachers are our role models. "If they don't mask," he says, "then they're not really modeling that behavior. Kids will get a mixed message. What we want to do is we want to de-stigmatize masks."

School districts, including Cincinnati Public, are in the process of developing return-to-school COVID policies. Not all will have mask mandates.

Dr. Manning says it's always easier if there is a consistent expectation for everyone. "We certainly respect the rights of families to make decisions that work for them and school districts make decisions that are informed by local factors, but our recommendation stands that we're recommending masking for all students, teachers and staff on school campuses."

Children's says it is seeing a fairly significant uptick in general for respiratory diseases.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.