It’s abusive to force kids who struggle with them to sacrifice for the sake of unvaccinated adults.
As millions of children head back to classrooms, parents are trying to track mask mandates and other COVID-19 school safety protocols. Most U.S. parents support mask mandates in schools, but are against vaccine requirements for eligible students, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds.
In its guidance, the AAP says it recommends universal masking because enforcing masking only for unvaccinated students, as well as tracking the vaccination status of students and staff, might be difficult for schools to do. The organization also notes that mask-wearing protects unvaccinated individuals and could reduce transmission of other respiratory illnesses that tend to keep students and staff home sick. The guidance provides exceptions for students and staff with developmental or medical conditions that make mask-wearing difficult.
The extent of the benefits of wearing masks for preventing COVID remains uncertain, but it’s wrong to say we don’t know anything at all. “One thing you can extrapolate well is that masks have some effect,” Haber told me. “But the level of effectiveness depends on an enormous array of very important factors, and high-quality direct evidence is difficult to come by, particularly for schools.”
Many parents worry that we’ve put kids last. This may have been the right choice, but it isn’t anymore. We need to figure out how we can make it up to them. And the CDC can help by providing more guidance to parents.
The CDC says some schools can drop mask mandates — but not all of them.
These data suggest that while there may be some challenges for children incurred by others wearing masks, in combination with other contextual cues, masks are unlikely to dramatically impair children’s social interactions in their everyday lives.
As new cases surge and schools prepare to reopen, supporters of bans say families should be allowed to make their own choices
For most young people, the social and emotional benefits of taking masks off outdoors greatly outweigh the personal and public-health advantages of keeping them on.
The WHO recommends against masking children 5 and under and only tepidly recommends masking children between 6 and 11. My reading of the same evidence comes down definitively against masking children up to 11.
"Whether a child wears a mask in school is a decision that should be left only to a student's parents," said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster earlier this week as he issued an executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school-based mask requirements.
To navigate this new morass of risk calculations, I spoke to Smith and Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at the University of California, San Francisco. They had somewhat different outlooks—illustrating just how much work is being thrust on parents right now to make constant judgment calls.
Once they are fully vaccinated, the CDC says it's safe for them to remove their masks in most settings, just like fully vaccinated adults. But state and local laws apply, as do school and business policies. And masks will still be required for all on buses, trains and planes, and at stations and airports.
It’s clear from the data that masking children is irrelevant to Covid outcomes.
Children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.