The announcement sought to clarify the surprise recommendation that vaccinated people could largely stop wearing masks in most cases.,

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Schools in the U.S. should continue to use masks, C.D.C. advises.

Jenea Edwards helps her son with his mask before heading into school in Pittsburgh in March.Credit…Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Associated Press

May 15, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday clarified coronavirus advice for U.S. schools, recommending the continued, universal use of masks and physical distancing, after the agency’s sudden announcement that vaccinated Americans could forego masks indoors.

All schools teaching students from kindergarten through grade 12 should continue to implement proper mask-wearing through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, the C.D.C. said. The agency also kept in place its suggestions to observe physical distancing and to test for coronavirus infections.

About 122 million people had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the U.S. as of Saturday, but the average number of vaccinations per day has dropped since its peak in April, according to C.D.C. data. News of the C.D.C.’s sweeping change to mask rules that were introduced a year ago came suddenly last week, prompting elation among many Americans but also some confusion over how to respond to the new guidance.

The C.D.C.’s advice for schools attempts to clear up some of the confusion. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds in the United States. But some parents are still hesitant about the vaccine. And no vaccines have been authorized yet for children under 12.

Two recent scientific findings were significant factors in the C.D.C.’s decision to change its advice on maskwearing for vaccinated people: few of those vaccinated become infected with the virus and transmission seems rarer still, and the vaccines widely used in the United States appear to be effective against all known variants of the coronavirus.