Gov. Baker discusses masks, COVID restrictions in schools this fall | News
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Governor Charlie Baker appearing to falter on the initial plan to remove all health and safety restrictions for the upcoming school year on Monday.
This as the COVID-19 vaccine approval for kids under 12 is still months away, and the back-to-school countdown is just weeks away.
If you are between 12 and 18 years old, you only have one vaccine option.
If you are under 12, you have no vaccine options.
That means a large number of unvaccinated people are set to learn in close quarters again this fall.
“58 percent of our 12 to 15-year-olds has received at least one dose compared to 36 percent nationwide,” Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said.
The Bay state’s population of vaccinated teens is relatively high as state health officials pointed out at a hearing of the joint committee on public health Monday.
But that doesn’t mean kids aren’t getting infected with COVID-19.
Western Mass News looked at the most recent data for new cases over the last two weeks provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
We did the math and found that out of more than 3,000 cases, around 14 percent are kids ages 0 to 14.
When you add in teens 15 to 19, that number goes up to 20 percent.
Officials with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who declined to testify Monday, have said they will not require masks in school come fall.
Baker ahead of a Tuesday call with federal health officials and the White House said that’s up in the air. Although, he was back to wearing a face mask himself.
“I’ve said all along that the one thing people should be very careful about was making absolute statements about anything that has to do with COVID,” Baker said.
Western Mass News also spoke with the Chief Clinical Officer of Mercy Medical Center, Dr. Robert Roose, on the susceptibility of children to the virus.
“Regardless of the age of the person, if somebody is unvaccinated then they are susceptible to getting an infection,” Dr. Roose said.
While children historically have not become seriously ill with COVID-19, Dr. Roose said that may not always be the case.
“It’s very possible that these variants could also change and become something that’s more severe for children than in prior variants that we’ve experienced. I think that’s an unknown at this point,” Dr. Roose said.
The date for when kids under 12 will be approved for vaccines is up in the air, with some estimates as early as mid-fall and others as late as the end of 2021.
Either way, health officials at the hearing Monday discussed different ways for setting up school-based vaccine clinics once the shots are approved.