coronavirus in connecticut

Will the Delta Variant Impact Future COVID-19 Mask Guidelines?

Some parents of children under 12, who are unable to get a COVID-19 vaccine, are wondering what the Delta variant may mean for mask-wearing in schools next year.

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State officials are tracking the presence of the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus. It’s a more dangerous strain of the virus and there’s questions about what it may mean for children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated. 

School has ended for almost all Connecticut children, but parents are already looking ahead to next year and wondering if their children will have to wear a mask. 

“We’re really keeping a close eye on what’s happening in schools and we understand that people are very anxious for guidance and information about the fall,” Acting Department of Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford said.

Gifford said the state is waiting for the Centers for Disease Control to issue guidance. 

“We will wait to see what CDC comes up with for the fall,” Gifford said.

There are parents who want an answer.

“There’s thousands and thousands of people across the state who actually agree that kids should be out of masks at this point,” Jonathan Johnson of Unmask Our Kids CT said. 

Johnson said there’s no reason to keep kids in masks. 

“They’re just sitting there in their mask all day, eight hours a day, it’s been 80 and 90 degrees out for the end of the school year here and parents have had enough,” Johnson said.

Since Friday there have only been 92 new cases in Connecticut and the positivity rate is 0.4%

Gifford said the best thing adults can do is get vaccinated to protect school children who can’t get vaccinated. New data released by the CDC Monday shows younger people are less likely to get vaccinated. 

“Those 18 to about 34 years old are less likely all across the country to get vaccinated,” Gifford said.

Vaccines are approved for everyone above the age of 12. 

“That’s the way to protect the people who can’t get vaccinated is to make sure all of us who can be are fully vaccinated,” Gifford added. 

As far as masking is concerned Gifford said they will be putting out guidance for the fall with the state Department of Education as soon as they can. 

“We try to follow CDC guidance and that’s where we’re looking right now,” she said. 

Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease expert at Hartford Healthcare, said the vaccines have been somewhat effective against the Delta variant in terms of deaths. 

“We all need to get vaccinated to protect our children and to keep the children safe as well as keep them from spreading it to others as well,” Wu said. 

There are parents who are concerned about the amount of time children under 12 are spending in masks. 

“If parents want their children to go to school without masks on they need to start sending their kids to school without masks,” LeeAnn Ducat, a mom from Woodstock, said.  

She said the only way the state is going to remove the mask mandate is when they have a vaccine approved for kids under the age of 12. 

“If they don’t take a stand now and take their children back from the state mandate they’re going to have to make some very difficult decisions,” Ducat said. 

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