Drive through many residential neighborhoods in the U.S. and you’re likely to see banners raging against mask mandates for schoolchildren. Grassroots organizations have even taken to buying space on billboards decrying the “cruelty” of making children wear masks and ridiculing the notion that doing so offers any protection at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would probably beg to differ, however, as data from a newly released study show there is a distinct difference in infection rates between schools that have mask mandates and those that do not. The study, conducted in Maricopa and Pima counties in Arizona, showed that schools that do not have mask rules were 3.5 times more likely to have a COVID-19 outbreak compared with schools that do require masking in school. In all, there were 191 outbreaks recorded, with 59% occurring in schools that didn’t have mask requirements. Only 8% of the outbreaks took place in schools with mask mandates, while the remaining 32% happened in schools that started the year without required masking but instituted a masking policy later. An “outbreak” was defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases occurring in students or staff within a 14-day period.
Some Parents May Rage, but Data Show School Mask Mandates Reduce Risk for COVID-19