By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — The nation’s leading group of pediatricians is weighing in on how schools can open safely in the fall. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends in-person learning this fall for the sake of kids’ mental, emotional and physical health, but the Academy says all school staff and children over 2 should wear masks, whether they’re vaccinated or not.

That’s to reduce the risk of exposure for children who are not yet eligible to receive vaccines. And as we know, many communities around the country have low vaccination rates and a rise in cases, making unvaccinated kids vulnerable.

The Academy also says that due to recent outbreaks of COVID-19 at summer camps, campers should also wear masks during indoor activities.

Parents should also call their pediatricians now to make sure their kids are caught up on all vaccinations before school starts, including COVID-19 vaccines for children 12 and older.

How important is the opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics? Why should parents and educators listen?

The AAP is really the preeminent organization in this country solely focused on promoting the health and well being of children. It’s made up of 67,000 pediatricians across the country. I have been a member of the AAP. The Academy often weighs in on issues such as nutrition, sports, vaccines, gun safety, and in this case, public health and education.

Dr. Mallika Marshall