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According to 33 local pediatricians, the decision by the Washoe County School District to allow students to dispense with masks was the wrong one.
The doctors, from various practices in northern Nevada, signed a letter sent to the school board and Washoe County School District Superintendent Kristen McNeill. You can read a copy of this letter at the bottom of this story.
In a late call on Sunday evening, the district announced that children under 10 no longer had to wear masks at school. In messages sent to principals by top district leaders, the district told teachers that they do not wear forced masks on children of any age group.
“It is too early to relax,” said the letter from the pediatricians sent on Tuesday. “We must continue to impose masks for all age groups in school.”
Pediatricians say the decision puts all children at risk and puts the lives of more vulnerable children with health problems at risk.
The school district and council did not respond to a request for comment on the letter. The school board did not say whether the masks would be discussed at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
There have been more than 5,500 confirmed cases of COVID and two deaths among those 18 and under in Washoe County in the past year.
In their letter, doctors said the district’s decision was not based on science and went against CDC and American Association of Pediatrics recommendations that all children wear masks.
âAlthough children and adolescents have a relatively lower risk of contracting serious Covid-19, we have seen that they can also become extremely ill or die, especially those with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, obesity or diabetes, âsays the letter mentioned.
Dr Kimiko Ishibashi of Pinecone Pediatrics in Reno said she and her colleagues have seen firsthand the devastating effects of COVID-19.
This decision, she said, could be “prejudicial to someone.”
âIt seems like this whole part of the population, our children, are being forgottenâ in the midst of a rush for life to get back to normal, she said.
- Kimiko Ishibashi, MD
- Grace So, MD
- Tammy Roesler, MD
- Andrea Cordell, APRN, PCNP
- Robin White, MD
- Christine Raman, MD
- Juan Gregory, MD
- Meredith Reynolds, MD
- Joseph Ludwick, MD
- Debra Hendrickson, MD
- Rotem Elitsur-Fitzpatrick, MD
- Sheryl Cohen, MD
- Kristen MacLeod, MD
- Kathleen Christopherson, MD
- Joel Speicher, MD
- Lari Frazee, MD
- Fannie Fang, MD
- Tara Prokop, MD
- Lauren Sandefur, MD
- Megan Dory, MD
- Scott Wallace, MD
- Lindsay Koppinger, MD
- Joey Gassen, MD
- Katrinka Kip, MD
- Krista Colletti, MD
- Vanessa Slots, MD
- Sonia Budhecha, MD
- Kristina Deeter, MD
- Kathryn Eckert, MD
- Shilpi Garg, MD
- Sara Healy, MD
- Dan Colombo, MD
- Gurjeet Wadia MD
Currently, the vaccine is only available to children 12 and older and was just made available to them in Washoe County last week.
Dr. Trudy Larson, a member of Governor Steve Sisolak’s medical advisory team and dean of the University of Nevada’s School of Community Health at Reno, said she expected a vaccine to be available by fall for children 2 years of age and over.
Larson, who is also an expert in pediatric infectious diseases, also believed children should always wear masks until more people are vaccinated and transmission rates are steadily declining.
Twenty-five percent of all new cases of COVID in Washoe County involve children, she said.
Currently, the Washoe County School District reports having active cases in 26 schools, but almost all of the more than 100 schools in the district have had positive cases in the past year.
Larson added that young children have a lower risk of transmission.
Dr Ishibashi said his two children will always wear masks at school.
But she fears that’s not enough to protect children who are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.
âIt’s not enough if you only wear the mask,â she said. “We all really need to care about the well-being of every child.”
Dear Superintendent McNeil and Board of Directors,
We are a group of pediatric providers in the Reno area who write to express our opposition to the recent WCSD decision to eliminate the mask mandate for students aged 9 and under.
As pediatricians, our primary goal is to ensure the well-being of our young patients and their families. We have seen firsthand the academic, social and emotional struggles of our patients during this year.
Fortunately, with data-driven and science-based mitigation measures such as universal school masking, social distancing, and cohort where possible, students were able to return to school safely. safety this year.
It is too early to relax. We must continue to impose masks for all age groups in school.
The CDC has very clearly continued to recommend that all children aged 2 and over continue to wear masks while in school. âThe CDC recommends that schools continue to use current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-2021 school year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the same recommendation.
Vaccines will not be available to elementary school age groups for some time.
Although children and adolescents have a relatively lower risk of contracting severe Covid-19, we have seen that they can also become extremely ill or die, especially those with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma. , obesity or diabetes.
Over the past year, we have seen firsthand that even healthy children without pre-existing conditions can be seriously affected and some have died.
Additionally, we are seeing new evidence that some children may experience long-term health issues as a result of COVID infection.
The impact COVID-19 can have on children should not be ignored. It is not enough for students to have the option of wearing a mask if they wish. We should research all of our students, especially those who have underlying illnesses or are at high risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19.
Evidence has shown us that masks have the highest protection value when everyone is masked. This not only puts our most vulnerable students at risk by having only these students masked, when not everyone around them is, but it also sets them apart, separating them as different at a time when our children are. already socially and emotionally vulnerable.
Instead, we should all come together to protect them. We understand the complexities of decision making that affect so many children and their families. However, we believe that the decisions that need to be made regarding the education of our children should also focus on their health and safety.
This decision does not appear to have been based on available scientific evidence, nor does it follow the advice of two of our most trusted healthcare organizations.
With only 3 weeks left in the school year, we should follow the advice of the CDC and AAP.
We should look at studies that show universal masking and social distancing clearly mitigates the transmission of COVID in schools, and we must continue the mask’s mandate.
We want our patients to be able to continue to safely enjoy the benefits of in-person schooling, and that requires us adults to stand up for them and make the right choices to keep them safe.
Schools in Washoe County are expected to continue to practice universal masking until the end of this school year.