In the early stages of the pandemic, it was widely believed that children were not a risk group for COVID infections, but, as the American Academy of Pediatrics reports, as of October 21 of this year, nearly 6.3 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. This amounts to a staggering 13.8% of all the COVID-19 cases in the country (total reported cases 45.616 million, per The New York Times).
If you’ve been reading the news, you know that in certain parts of the country there are school districts that aren’t mandating that students wear facemasks in the classroom or anywhere within the school. Some of the comments from parents opposed to having their kids wear face masks have ranged from “It’s child abuse to make kids wear masks,” to “face masks don’t work.”
Sadly, these kinds of statements are (mostly always) false, and new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are proving them wrong.
Two recently released studies have revealed that wearing masks in schools does, in fact, reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The first study looked at the association between K–12 school mask policies and school-associated COVID-19 outbreaks in Maricopa and Pima Counties, Arizona, from July – August 2021.
They found that school-associated COVID-19 outbreaks in schools with no mask requirement were 3.7 times higher than those in schools with an early mask requirement.
Image Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
A school was considered to have a mask requirement if all persons, regardless of vaccination status, were required to wear a mask indoors in school. An early mask requirement was one that was in place when the school year began, and a late mask requirement was one that was implemented any time after the school year began.
Meanwhile, a second CDC study revealed that counties without school mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates after the start of school compared with counties that had school mask requirements.
The overall takeaway is that increases in kids’ COVID-19 case rates during the start of the 2021–22 school year were smaller in US counties with school mask requirements than in those without school mask requirements.
School mask requirements, in combination with other prevention strategies, including COVID-19 vaccination, can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
We wholeheartedly support kids wearing face masks in the schoolroom. It’s not political, it’s not taking away rights, it’s science and it will keep kids safe until we all have this virus under control. Some kids are taking it more seriously than some of the adults!