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Masked at all times

By Caroline Downey, National Review

The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced it will require students to wear high-grade, non-cloth masks due to the rise of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

As of Monday, students were expected to arrive at school wearing “well-fitted, non-cloth masks with a nose wire” and continue doing so at all times, even outside, per the district’s guidelines. Students who claim they cannot comply because of a disability, medical or mental health condition can receive an exemption.

Los Angeles County health authorities recommended phasing-out cloth masks due to evidence of waning efficacy, Shannon Haber, a spokeswoman for LAUSD, told the Associated Press. State health personnel say citizens should shift to surgical-grade or even thicker masks, such as N95 and KN95 masks.

Such a proposal seems to fly in the face of scientific studies finding that mild symptoms manifest in the majority of those who contract Omicron, especially children, despite the variant’s high transmissibility. Most students who catch Covid recover in short time and even unvaccinated children are at lower risk of severe outcomes than vaccinated adults. The district’s mask guidelines also fail to acknowledge the mounting evidence that masks can harm speech development and may have detrimental effects on the mental health of children.

The district is likely responding to the spike in cases in the metropolitan area, which reported a “very high” seven-day testing positivity rate of 16 percent, with more than 250,000 positive virus cases reported last week, according to the LA County Department of Health.

While schools are committed to reducing the spread of the virus on their campuses to prevent them from having to move instruction online, many have failed to address the negative repercussions of masking children, likely to be aggravated further by a tighter, thicker medical mask that makes it considerably more challenging to breathe.

Data on the long-term effects of masking children is unknown, but parents nationwide have complained that masks inhibit learning and academic performance, present a language barrier for early childhood education, and even pose a health risk of their own to members of an age group with otherwise statistically robust immune systems.

Read more at National Review.

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