The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that everyone age 2 and older don a mask when returning to school this year regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status, the group said on Monday, according to NBC.

As part of a layered approach, the group says that all children and school staff should wear masks when returning to the classroom for the 2021-22 school year, citing safety concerns among the largely unvaccinated student population, NBC reports.

“We need to prioritize getting children back into schools alongside their friends and their teachers — and we all play a role in making sure it happens safely,” Sonja O’Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said, according to NBC. “Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics noted that their recommendation is based on the fact that a sizable portion of the student population is unvaccinated. Children over the age of 12 are currently eligible for vaccination, but emergency use authorization for anyone younger is still months away.

The group’s latest recommendations come as COVID-19 cases are rising nationwide in part due to the circulation of more infectious variants, like the Delta variant.

Cases are also on the rise in Massachusetts, up 46% last week over the prior week. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed that 132 new cases in Provincetown were linked to the Fourth of July weekend.

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