CDC: Mask Mandates Prevent School COVID Outbreaks

National public health agency releases reports showing masks help stop the spread
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2021 10:28 AM CDT
CDC: Schools That Require Masks Had Fewer COVID Cases
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19 Sept. 15.   (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

(Newser) – Schools that ask kids to wear masks are seeing fewer COVID outbreaks. The CDC released three reports on Friday. One summed up a study comparing outbreaks in schools that required masks and schools that didn’t in two school districts in Arizona, where Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona has banned mask mandates. Some schools there required them anyway, Yahoo News reports. Another one compared COVID case numbers in counties with school mask requirements and counties that didn’t. The third is simply a roundup of which schools have in-person, remote, or hybrid learning modalities, and which were closed for COVID outbreaks, and showed that most schools are open, even as the Delta variant spreads nationwide. Schools without mask requirements were 3.5 times more likely to have a COVID outbreak, per the Wall Street Journal.

Mobeen Rathore wasn’t involved in the studies, but he is chief of infectious diseases at a children's hospital in a Florida county with no mask requirement for schools. In Duval County, where Rathore is, COVID cases among schoolchildren hit a high shortly after classes started, then declined when the school board changed the policy, mandating masks for 90 days. “Masks work,” Rathore told the WSJ. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also banned mask mandates, but some schools rebelled, and DeSantis docked bard members’ pay, per Yahoo News. In a press release accompanying the reports, the CDC continued to press the message that masks save lives, and not just of the kids in schools. Mask mandates “can reduce the burden on the health care systems that support these school districts,” the press release says. (Read more face masks stories.)

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