Yes, it’s a pain. But it works.
Why We (Still) Need Masks
If you need talking points on why masks should be required in your school in fall 2021, use this document, prepared by Dr. Alex Huffman, a bioaerosol expert from the University of Denver.
The Best Masks for Kids
By this point in the pandemic, there’s no need send kids to school wearing homemade masks. This short spreadsheet from Dr. Linsey Marr and Dr. Aaron Prussin, aerosol experts from Virginia Tech has links to the masks the kiddos should be wearing.
This video from the ABC Science Collaborative in North Carolina explains how masks help protect both the wearer and others from COVID-19 infection.
This animation from the NY Times shows exactly how masks trap microscopic droplets that carry virus particles.
Evidence That Masks Make Schools Safer
This article from ProPublica focuses on two Georgia school systems – one where a mask mandate was instituted, and one without a mask mandate. Their different outcomes highlight the need to follow CDC guidance on COVID-19 precautions.
CDC studies in Georgia and Utah showed the benefit of improved ventilation, masking, and COVID testing in preventing outbreaks in K-12 schools.
Do we really need 6 feet of distance if we’re all wearing masks?
(One True Thing, 03.10.21)
Honestly, the answer is no, as long as the other safety measures are in place. For a version of this article that can be customized for your school, click here.
This Ohio district has kept kids in person all year with three feet of distancing and no in-school transmission, thanks to strict mask rules. An Indiana district mentioned in this article let kids who were between 3 and 6 feet of COVID-positive classmates stay in school – and infection rates didn’t rise.
Those stories are just anecdotal evidence, I grant you. But this study from the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases isn’t. It followed over 500K K-12 students and nearly 100K staff members for 16 weeks in the fall of 2020. All the schools required masks, and 90% of them had improved their ventilation in some way. There was no significant difference in the COVID rates between schools that kept folks at 3 feet of distance and those that kept folks 6 feet apart. NB: This study was done when the virus variants had not yet hit the US.
Should kids who’ve been 3 – 6 feet away from one another be considered close contacts?
(The Ohio Schools COVID-19 Evaluation Research Team, 01.29.21)
This report from a big consortium of universities, hospitals, and research centers says no, as long as everyone involved was wearing masks.
As they explain, “Children who were close contacts and appropriately masked had rates of COVID-19 that were similar to children with no known COVID-19 exposure in school. The COVID-19 rate in the comparison group suggests community transmission outside the school
In other words, kids weren’t getting COVID from the kids they sat next to in school – they were getting it when they weren’t in school.