MSAAP urges to schools to mandate masks

Published 10:18 am Monday, October 4, 2021

As Mississippi recently gained its ninth COVID-19 pediatric death, the state’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement urging Mississippi schools to mandate masks.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 1,561 more cases of COVID-19, 42 deaths, and 68 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities from Oct. 1 to Oct. 3. The state has a total of 490,777 cases and 9,688 deaths, and 1,316,382 persons have been fully vaccinated.

Lafayette County has 12 more cases of COVID-19. There have been no reports of deaths or LTC facility outbreaks. The county has a total of 8,340 cases, 137 deaths, 199 LTC facility outbreaks and 56 LTC facility deaths.

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While some school districts have instated a mask mandate like the Oxford School District, a number of Mississippi school districts have begun removing face mask mandates in the past two weeks, including some of the state’s larger counties, including districts in Rankin County and Ocean Springs.

Lafayette County Schools have a code system that requires masks on higher COVID-19 transmission levels, but only recommend masks for students, faculty and staff.

“It looks like acute COVID hospitalizations are on the rise again and it’s timed right as schools drop mask requirements,” said Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s of Mississippi.

The MSAAP recently released a statement addressing schools’ decision to relax their safety precautions as state cases decline.

“MSAAP urges school boards, inspectors, teachers and parents to continue with mask requirements in all school settings to slow the transmission of COVID-19,” said a representative of the organization. “Two studies published in the past week add to the abundant literature that masks work in school.”

The statement directly addresses the CDC’s report indictating that an outbreak of COVID-19 in school is 3.5 times more common in schools without a mask mandate compared to school districts enforcing a mask mandate.

In the statement, the MSAAP said they will continue to encourage vaccination for everyone who is eligible, including children 12 years and older.

While the state is seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the MSAAP reported that the percentage of total cases in children under 12 has risen significantly.

“There is one pediatric pediatric hospital in Mississippi, and it is again seeing an increase in acute cases of COVID-19 and MIS-C,” MSAAP leaders said. “While the total number of COVID-19 cases hospitalized in the University of Mississippi Medical Center has decreased (adults and children), cases in children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated now account for 31% of all hospital admissions. “