Mississippi pediatricians group urges schools to keep mask rules in place

Published 4:48 pm Thursday, September 30, 2021

With three children having died from COVID-19 during September and a total of six since July, a Mississippi pediatricians group is urging state and local education leaders to continue with face mask requirements for indoor school settings.

Several Mississippi school districts have begun removing face mask mandates over the last two weeks, including some of the state’s larger districts including districts in Rankin County and Ocean Springs.

“Acute COVID hospitalizations are increasing again it seems and it is timed exactly with schools dropping mask requirements,” Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, professor of pediatric infectious disease at Children’s of Mississippi said.

The Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MSAAP) issued a statement Thursday referencing two recently published studies on mask mandates.

“Some schools have begun to relax their mask mandates as community cases have started to decline,” the pediatricians group said in the statement. “MSAAP urges school boards, superintendents, teachers, and parents to continue with masks requirements in all indoor school settings to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Two studies published this past week add to the abundant literature that masks in the school setting work.”

A CDC report released this week indicated that an in-school outbreak of COVID-19 were 3.5 times more likely in schools without a mask mandate compared with school districts enforcing a mask mandate.

MSAAP leaders also said in the written news release that they continue to encourage vaccination for anyone eligible, including children 12 and up.

Although the state’s number of new COVID-19 cases is dropping, the MSAAP reported that the percentage of overall cases in children under 12 has risen significantly.

“There is one pediatric Children’s Hospital in Mississippi, and it is again seeing a rise in acute cases of COVID-19 and MIS-C,” MSAAP leaders said. “While the total number of COVID-19 cases hospitalized at UMMC has dropped (adults and children), cases in children under 12 who are unable to be vaccinated now account for 31% of all hospitalizations.”