Statement on Returning to School- COVID-19
The Arizona Academy of Family Physicians (AzAFP) and its 2200 physician and medical student members are dedicated to serving the patients of Arizona. The AzAFP advises state leaders to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services. This is especially important due to the evolving nature of this pandemic.
The AzAFP understands that this pandemic can be challenging to navigate. Therefore, we recommend that all school faculty, staff, and eligible students are vaccinated as a first, important step towards disease mitigation. The vaccinations available against COVID-19 are safe, effective, and available, and they even reduce disease severity when a breakthrough case occurs.
All students greater than 2 years old, school staff, volunteers and visitors should wear
face masks while indoors at school, unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit mask use. This is a proven strategy to keep students and teachers as safe as possible while away from their homes.
When outdoors, it is not always necessary to wear a mask. In areas of substantial transmission, however, the CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated. Additionally, because of the need to remove masks while eating, it is recommended that physical distancing is utilized to reduce the risk of transmission during meals and snacks at school.
Lastly, students and school staff should stay home when they have signs of any
infectious illness and should see their physician for testing, care and timing for returning to school. The AzAFP encourages schools to provide leniency towards students and school staff who have to stay home due to known COVID-19 exposure and illness.
AzAFP leaders are available to consult with education leaders, public health officials and policymakers on specific recommendations for mitigating COVID-19 transmission and risks.