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Despite new AAP guidance, some BCS day cares won’t reinstate mask requirements

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A national pediatricians group released new guidance Monday recommending all students over the age of two and school staff wear masks at school, even if they’re fully vaccinated.

The recommendations, which also encourage anyone eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, came down from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Despite that, some day cares in Bryan-College Station say they won’t be following the guidance on masks.

“We’ve remained a safe, clean center,” Brazos Valley Kidz Academy teacher Kora Reed said. “We’ve stayed open for our families, and we do our best due diligence to keep this a safe place. Since the mask mandate ended in March of this year, we waited a few weeks after until the CDC changed their guidelines and declared it safe for us to stop wearing our masks.”

“They are guidelines. They’re not state standards or regulations and licensing laws we have to follow,” Charlotte Sharp Children’s Center Executive Director Vicki Gibson said. “The important thing to do is read the guidelines and implement safe practices. We are carefully screening, and we have parents that we trust that are also monitoring carefully.”

Part of the reason Gibson won’t require masks again at this time is because she says they inhibit a younger child’s ability to learn.

“The mask hides your facial expression, which is extremely important for language development in young children,” Gibson said. “They do look into our faces and seek approval. In order to pronounce words correctly and understand communications correctly, they often need to see our mouth positions.”

“The faces that we make, them being able to see us and our mouths move, it’s so crucial to their development,” Reed said. “Them being able to see us smile, or us being able to see when they’re sad and they need a hug, or things like that, it makes it so much easier for us to be able to help them. Our interactions with the kids, parents, and families are so much better now that we don’t have to wear masks.”

Brittany Sweeney has been taking her children to the Brazos Valley Kidz Academy since 2018. She says she understands the recommendation as a safety precaution, but she doesn’t feel the benefits of masking outweigh the loses in learning her children may suffer because of it.

“I do not personally agree with it,” Sweeney said. “I think it’s going to make things a lot harder when it comes to developmental stages for kids, and I have felt that way from day one.”

Sweeney says she understands the risks involved by sending her kids to school every day, but she also says she trusts her school to take the necessary precautions to keep them safe.

“My education for my kids is the one thing that’s most important to me,” Sweeney said. “I feel like they’re getting and understanding more when they’re able to see their teachers’ expressions. I don’t really think a mask mandate is going to change a whole lot from what we’re doing right now.”

Both Bryan and College Station Independent School Districts have announced masks will be optional both indoors and outdoors for the upcoming school year. Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in May prohibiting any government entity, including school districts, from mandating the use of face masks.

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