More evidence is showing that masks work to keep the coronavirus at bay. At a time when masks in schools are a hot topic of debate at all levels of government and within families, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published two studies that show masks can help protect children from COVID-19 and prevent large outbreaks in schools. That is the case even when there is a high level of community transmission and the highly contagious delta variant is present.
One of the studies analyzed data from Arizona and found that schools that did not have a universal mask requirement were much more likely to have an outbreak. The study analyzed data in Maricopa and Pima counties, which are the largest in the state. In both counties, some schools had universal masking requirements and others did not. Those that did not have a mask requirement were 3.5 times as likely to experience and outbreak than those that did, the CDC concluded. The schools in Arizona that implemented a mask requirement went against orders by Gov. Doug Ducey who has banned mandates.
Another study looked at mask mandates in 520 counties across the country. The study concluded that after the school year started, COVID-19 cases increased at a higher rate in counties that had school without mask requirements. “Increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates during the start of the 2021–22 school year were smaller in U.S. counties with school mask requirements than in those without school mask requirements,” the study concludes. The masking policies don’t just help schools, but also the community as a whole to avoid overtaxing health care facilities. “This highlights the impact that universal masking policies can have on the communities that surround these school districts, as the impact of the policies can reduce the burden on the health care systems that support these school districts,” the CDC said.
I another study, the CDC said that while an estimated 1,801 school closures have taken place so far this school year due to COVID-19 outbreaks, the vast majority—or 96 percent—of public and private schools have remained open for in-person learning.