A group of doctors from Upstate Medical University and the Mohawk Valley, as well as the Cayuga County public health director, released separate letters this week echoing the CDC's recommendations to requiring masks in schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Dr. Kathryn Anderson, the Upstate Medical University assistant professor of medicine, is one of the doctors who believes universal masking is crucial in schools.

The doctors say masks should be required for both those who are and aren't vaccinated. Dr. Anderson says people who are vaccinated can still spread COVID-19.

"The vaccination reduces your risk of getting infected with COVID, but if you do get infected you can still be infectious and contagious, so we really need to create this bubble of protection around your children," said Dr. Anderson.

How does COVID-19 affect kids?

A pediatrician says it varies.

"It could really run the gamut from looking well to being very sick," said Dr. Steven Blatt, the Upstate Medical University professor of pediatrics and director of General Pediatrics.

Dr. Blatt says the virus is capable of affecting several parts of the body.

"People think of COVID as a respiratory disease, which it is, but it also affects other parts of the body as many viruses do,” he said. “It may dominate in one organ like the lungs, but it could impact multiple organs.”

The Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES District superintendent says she's been following what health experts have to say, and the district will be requiring masks.

"Our most fragile learners tend to be at BOCES, and then we have our young learners who aren't even eligible for the vaccines so this current variant unfortunately is affecting kids more seriously, and our first mandate even before education is safety," said HFHO BOCES District Superintendent Sandy Sherwood.

Sherwood says masks seemed to make a difference last year.

"Masks really showed to be so effective, not just in the COVID-19 but we had less strep, we had less flu. We had less everything, less stomach virus," she said. "So why wouldn't we do something as simple as masking this year in order to stay open?"

The Syracuse City School District's website says they too will be requiring masks for all people in indoor facilities, including on school buses.

The Oswego City School District also plans to require masks.