The Atlantic: ‘The Case Against Masks at School’

Margery Smelkinson, Leslie Bienen, and Jeanne Noble, in a copiously-researched piece for The Atlantic:

The CDC guidance on school masking is far-reaching, recommending “universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K–12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.” In contrast, many countries — the U.K., Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and others — have not taken the U.S.’s approach, and instead follow World Health Organization guidelines, which recommend against masking children ages 5 and younger, because this age group is at low risk of illness, because masks are not “in the overall interest of the child,” and because many children are unable to wear masks properly. Even for children ages 6 to 11, the WHO does not routinely recommend masks, because of the “potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development.” The WHO also explicitly counsels against masking children during physical activities, including running and jumping at the playground, so as not to compromise breathing. [...]

Many public-health experts maintain that masks worn correctly are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, there’s reason to doubt that kids can pull off mask-wearing “correctly.” We reviewed a variety of studies — some conducted by the CDC itself, some cited by the CDC as evidence of masking effectiveness in a school setting, and others touted by media to the same end — to try to find evidence that would justify the CDC’s no-end-in-sight mask guidance for the very-low-risk pediatric population, particularly post-vaccination. We came up empty-handed.

Very compelling piece, if you think policies such as mandatory masking in schools should be based on evidence from well-conducted scientific studies.

Saturday, 29 January 2022