'Kids can tolerate masks': UW pediatrician offers guidance on returning to school in the fall

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- With a new school year just weeks away, health experts are sharing advice on keeping students safe from COVID-19.

Pediatricians at UW Health support in-person learning but they believe the return will be compromised if schools and families don't take the proper precautions.

"Kids can and will tolerate masks if parents send them a strong message that they can," said Dr. Greg DeMuri, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UW-Health.

He said wearing masks indoors, getting vaccinated and proper distancing will help keep the learning environment free of COVID-19.

"There's some new research out of the public health department in Madison, Dane County, and UW [Health], that shows that people who get the Delta variant have very high levels of virus in their nose and they can spread it to others," said Dr. DeMuri. 

Not everyone agrees on COVID-19 safety guidance but to school districts and their families, considering going maskless, DeMuri calls the situation a ticking time bomb.

"They could easily have an outbreak in their school and that could send all students home, close the school for a while," he said. "It could close classrooms for a while. It's going to be disruptive to school districts and it's putting children and their families at risk."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls full-time, in-person learning a priority, but with layered prevention methods in place.

The CDC says vaccination is the leading strategy to end the pandemic.

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