On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published two studies on the efficacy of mask mandates in school districts throughout the country, demonstrating in both that schools with rules in place requiring facial coverings see significantly fewer instances of COVID-19 outbreaks.
In one study, which reviewed a number of schools in the state of Arizona, schools that didn’t require masks were 3.5 times more likely to see a coronavirus outbreak occur, versus schools that did have requirements in place. Nearly 60 percent of the outbreaks that were observed within that study happened in schools that didn’t have mask mandates.
“CDC recommends universal indoor masking by students, staff members, faculty, and visitors in kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) schools, regardless of vaccination status, to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the agency reiterated in the opening paragraph of the study.
A second study, which examined more than 500 counties throughout the U.S., came to a similar conclusion: masks work to protect children against getting infected.
“Counties without school mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates after the start of school compared with counties that had school mask requirements,” the CDC concluded after examining that study’s findings.
That study also found that schools with no masking requirements saw pediatric coronavirus infections increase by 35 cases per 100,000 students within the first two weeks of the school year, versus an increase of just 16 cases per 100,000 in districts that implemented mask mandates.
The two studies come as the U.S. Department of Justice begins investigating a number of states across the country that have banned local governments, including school districts, from instituting masking rules to protect children (and their families) from the virus.
Some Republican governors lashed out at the Biden administration for its investigation.
“President [Joe] Biden shouldn’t spend a single second harassing states like Oklahoma for protecting parents’ rights to make health decisions for their kids,” a spokesperson for Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) said late last month.
Yet pediatric cases for coronavirus remain high. In the week starting on September 16, for example, more than 206,000 children were diagnosed with COVID-19, a figure that represents more than a quarter (26.7 percent) of all diagnoses for the virus made throughout the country, and the fifth week in a row where pediatric cases topped 200,000.