Masking Did Help Protect Children From Covid Last Fall, According to a C.D.C. Study

School districts are waiving mandatory mask-wearing as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States has plummeted. A study released on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests these mandates helped protect children and teachers from the coronavirus last fall. But they remain a subject of controversy among some students and their parents. A study that looked at public school districts in Arkansas from August through October as the Delta variant proliferated found that sections with complete mask requirements had 23 percent lower rates of coronavirus among students and employees than districts without mandates.

In the past, the CDC has faced criticism from academics for exaggerating the benefits of wearing masks in schools based on what some researchers have called misguided. a study from Arizona. But some scientists said the latest CDC study avoided the most severe methodological problems and strengthened the evidence that masks protect some children from the coronavirus.

This took into account the vaccination rates of staff and students and socio-economic status. However, Dr. McNutt said the study would benefit from more information about statewide testing levels. The study found that areas with total mask mandates had lower coronavirus rates than those in the surrounding community than areas without orders. 

The partial masking policy did not show as strong an effect as the complete masking requirements.

The study did not take into account the preventive measures of schools, in addition to masking, such as ventilating classrooms. He said the study could more accurately match nearby schools with different masking policies to study their effects.

But Dr. Abalak said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study is better than the previous study. “This study and the wider literature on mask-wearing shows that in places where hospital admissions and deaths are very high, the benefits of wearing masks in schools can be significant,” he said. However, he noted that masks could cause discomfort and prevent children from communicating. “Finding out how severe an outbreak needs to be to warrant mandatory masks in schools,” he said, “requires better cost assumptions, which remain highly uncertain given the existing data.”

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