A survey of the data on risks for kids and why I oppose mask mandates in schools
I would also point to Philippe Lemoine's piece - what do things look like five, or twenty years from now (you know, that question public health never seems to ask itself anymore)? His answer was, COVID is always here but it's no longer serious. Why is it no longer serious? Because people are first infected when they are young and it is harmless, setting them on a path of lifelong immunity during which they are constantly reinfected, but it is never serious until they are old and weak. Eventually, he said, the only people who will be vaccinated are the elderly.
So if that is the eventual situation, and a central piece of that eventual situation is "kids get infected when young but that's fine because the disease is nearly harmless to them and that helps protect them for the rest of their lives"... then why are we fanatically attempting to prevent them from being infected now?
I would not be opposed to a mask mandate for unvaccinated kids in high school, but that's about it. My kids elementary school is making kids wear masks full time, including outside at recess. I'd pull them out except that my wife is a teacher at the school and that would be really awkward for everyone. It's ridiculous.
One thing I’m really curious about is the effect of masks on kids psychologically. Isn’t facial recognition super important for child development? I think you could potentially argue that masks are not neutral, they have a negative effect on kids. This was one of the few articles I could find… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/well/family/how-children-learn-to-recognize-faces.html
Thanks for another good post with actual data on this.
Anyone want to indulge in some baseless speculation on why it might be that masks do seem to have an impact for adults but not for kids? Some ideas:
- Kids don't keep them on as well as adults.
- If it's aerosol transmission, when you're sitting in a classroom all day with the same kids, whatever virions they're breathing out are going to diffuse around given enough time, regardless of the mask. Since teachers see each other for shorter periods during the day, masking may still help block some of their transmission between one another.
I think you’ve misread the CDC study of mitigation policies in Georgia schools. Methodologically it is fine, IMO. The cited 37% reduction is due to mask mandates for unvaccinated faculty and staff, however. Buried in the report, and not mentioned in the summary, is the fact that mask mandates for students in these Georgia schools show zero effect on reducing incidents of COVID infection. It is the widest study available, covering over 90K students and 169 schools, and it makes your case. Unfortunately you have preemptively brought it into question. Might you have been mistaken to do so?
Excellent piece. I would share this on social media (and risk the ire of literally everyone) however I think what they will use to shoot it down is the delta variant being more transmissible and therefore the older studies don’t apply. Can you comment?