Former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday it’s too soon and “imprudent” for schools to lift mask mandates right now while there are high numbers of coronavirus cases.
Gottlieb said some schools can’t implement social distancing or testing and may need to rely on masks as their only tool to prevent the virus from spreading.
“So to withdraw it right at the peak of the epidemic, I think is imprudent. We should wait. I think within two weeks we'll be able to make that decision,” Gottlieb said.
In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order that allows parents or guardians to decide whether their children wear masks in school is set to take effect on Monday. Some school districts have said they will continue to enforce mask mandates.
Gottlieb urged policymakers to set clear endpoints based on levels of coronavirus transmission for when they would withdraw use of coronavirus mitigation measures.
“I think parents are willing to tolerate masks in schools, recognizing it's very disruptive to children, if there is an end date to it, if it's clearly prescribed when we're going to use these masks and when we're going to withdraw them so they don't disrupt two years of a child's socialization and school activities,” Gottlieb said.
Some context: Speaking on ABC This Week on Sunday, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci reminded that US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance suggests multiple layers of protection are needed to keep children in school: vaccinating adults and children, wearing masks and improving ventilation.
“All of those things go together, and masking is a part of that,” Fauci said.