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The state issues mask requirement for kindergarteners as testing ramps up for students and staff

Delaware Public Media

The state is now requiring small children to wear masks in public places, including kindergarteners returning to school.

State health officials are pointing to a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that says young children should wear face coverings. 

Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay previously advised against young children wearing masks, but now says children over the age of two don’t typically have a problem with masks. 

“Although we had been slightly reluctant to require face coverings in younger children before, American Academy for Pediatrics came out earlier this month with a really strong statement around face coverings for children, feeling that we had really, in many ways, underestimated kid’s ability to tolerate face coverings,” said Rattay.        

Rattay adds most children with underlying health conditions can still wear face coverings as well.

The updated recommendation will be written in a modification to Governor Carney’s State of Emergency order, but the state will not be actively enforcing the change, according to DPH.

The new guidance comes as the state is getting underway its effort to test students, faculty and staff for COVID-19 ahead of schools reopening. 

Delaware is using the Vault at-home test for school staff at all public schools returning to in person learning. State officials say 11,000 invites to receive the test in the mail have been sent out so far. 

The goal is to then test 25% of school faculty each week during the school year. 

The state also began holding testing events in school gymnasiums this week for students who want to get tested before they go back to school. 

But officials say less people are getting tested overall statewide.

Delaware Emergency Management Agency Director A.J. Schall notes about 41,000 people have been tested in Delaware so far this month compared to 71,000 in July.  

“At the same time, we had some severe weather that played a role and really wiped out several nights and a few days of testing,” said Schall. “At the same time, we really haven’t had that emotional type news that has made the front page like we did in June and July to get people to show up in a little faster fashion.”  

Schall adds the state is not “turning anyone away” and testing options are available.

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