Widespread data now exists to show that wearing masks doesn’t stop the transmission of germs and viruses. We must move away from partisan debates about mask-wearing and shift toward exploration of short-term, as well as long-term, solutions. This includes thoughtful consideration of unintended side effects associated with mandated mask-wearing.
In an article published last week in The Atlantic, Smelkinson, et. al. provide a compilation of studies that refute the effectiveness of masking in schools to slow the transmission of Covid. Context matters, but unfortunately, we’ve failed to answer fundamental questions on what interventions actually work to slow viral transmission.
There are no randomized controlled trials of quarantine/isolation periods shorter than two weeks, nor of isolation periods longer than five days. The only evidence for the efficacy of masks against influenza is based on observational studies, and there are no clinical trials. When you have insufficient evidence you get polarized opinions and faith-based policies.
In the early months of the pandemic, we appropriately implemented the precautionary principle as we locked down, wore masks, and socially distanced ourselves from others. However, as we approach years three and four of the pandemic and more data becomes available, we must begin to question those who continue to impose life-altering restrictions on children – prove to us that these interventions do more good than harm.
Mask Mandates Impede Children’s Development
Experts express concerns that mask mandates impede children’s development on multiple fronts, including speech/language, social emotional engagement, learning and mental health.
While the mask law does not ban children from wearing masks, it gives them and their parents the freedom to decide whether third-year mask wearing is right for them. This includes exploring the impact masks have on a child’s social-emotional development and mental health.
Mask wearing interferes with social and emotional development in children, including their ability to identify emotions and connect with peers and educators. Particularly for younger children, mask wearing interferes with intellectual development and the ability to speak, read and learn in general.