Masks temporarily return in Philadelphia and Camden school districts

The districts say the measure is to protect the community and mitigate the spread of several respiratory viruses.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Masks temporarily return for students in Camden, New Jersey
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The Camden City School District will require masks from January 3 through January 17.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Both the Philadelphia and Camden City school districts are mandating masks for the first two weeks after the holidays.

The School District of Philadelphia will require face coverings from January 3 through January 13.

The Camden City School District will require masks from January 3 through January 17.

The districts say the measure is to protect the community and mitigate the spread of several respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

"If it helps the kids not miss more days, that's great," said a mom in Fairmout. She says masks "keeps kids from putting hands in their noses, hands on their little mouths, and touching things and sharing things."

"Off a holiday, there are multiple viruses going around in addition to COVID, so I think just wearing masks in general would be very beneficial to the community, teachers, and the parents," said Aalap Shah from Fairmount.

According to the CDC, Philadelphia recorded about 1,300 COVID cases last week while Camden County had more than 800 cases and high community spread.

Both counties recorded fewer cases than the week before, but experts are still urging caution. January 2022 saw the highest COVID spike of the pandemic and experts hope history does not repeat itself.

"One of the best ways we can mitigate is by masking," said Terri Lipman, a professor of nursing of children at the University of Pennsylvania. She says the risk in schools is high and the spread doesn't stop within the buildings.

"School children go home. So it's not just transmitting to schools and school personnel but those children go home and they go into the community," she said.

Still, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of masking kids again, including Yehudith Rubin, who teaches language at a private school.

"It's very hard on the kids to understand me because you need to see the lips when you teach a language, and also when they talk back to me it's very hard to hear them," she said.

While the school districts hope masking will keep people from getting sick, experts still say the best way to protect yourself and your children is to get vaccinated, both for COVID and the flu.