New research shows that school mask mandates work

Recently published findings on universal masking policies in schools reinforce previously touted messages that they help keep kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19, a D.C. pediatrician says.

“These studies found that school districts without a universal masking policy in place were more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks. Nationwide, counties without masking requirements saw the number of pediatric COVID-19 cases increase nearly twice as quickly during this same period,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement on the three reports.

The findings stand as confirmation that kids as young as 3 through young adulthood can safely and successfully wear masks, said Dr. Nathaniel Beers, who is president of the HSC health care system and a pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in D.C.

Beers is the executive lead over children’s school services, which oversees the school nursing services in D.C.’s public and charter schools.

But some parents remain reluctant about having mask mandates for kids in school.

“And so certainly, communities that have struggled with that, this report helps provide evidence that, in fact, we’re doing a great disservice to our children, and we’re increasing the likelihood that they will miss school because of COVID-19,” Beers said.

“We’re increasing the likelihood that the school will shut down or the class will shut down because of COVID-19, when we can’t put aside our personal differences and prioritize the health and safety of children.”

Noting that masks are part of a layered approach to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, Beers emphasized the need for everyone eligible — from kids to school staff — to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as well, to help protect the broader community.

He’s concerned about the flu, too. Beers said that many communities around the country are starting to experience surges in flu cases.

“And so we certainly want to encourage families to get their flu vaccine and that for all kids to get their flu vaccine as well, to make sure that we don’t overburden an already-overtaxed health care system with unnecessary cases of either COVID-19 or the flu,” he said.

You can learn more about the this flu season on the CDC website.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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