Vinay Prasad, associate professor of epidemology at UC San Francisco
A UC San Francisco professor of epidemiology condemned the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s call for children ages 2 and up to wear masks in school, saying the policy would do more harm than good to a child’s development and the national vaccination effort.
In a column for The Atlantic, Vinay Prasad warned state leaders that forcing young students to wear masks could hinder their language, social and cultural development skills.
He claimed that the trade off for the minimal protection offered by masks against COVID-19 was not worth it.
‘No scientific consensus exists about the wisdom of mandatory-masking rules for schoolchildren. The World Health Organization, which recommends that children 12 and older wear masks under the same circumstances that adults do, specifically advises against masking kids age 5 and younger,’ Prasad wrote.
Prasad said that while concerns of children not being able to breathe behind masks was a bit exaggerated, so too is the idea that masks provide major benefits to combat COVID in the classroom.
He criticized the effectiveness of most masks, as prevailing research has shown that the popular blue surgical masks do little to contain aerosols.
A study from the University of Waterloo found that the blue masks were only 10% effective at filtering aerosols from the mouth and nose, where the tighter fitting N95 and KN95 masks filtered more than half.
Students in New York City Schools have had to wear masks for more than a year. Pictured, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, center, with students at P.S. 5 on Aug. 17
Parent Melissa Jean, right, reads to her son’s Pre-K class as they all wear masks at Phyl’s Academy, in Brooklyn on March 24, 2021
Melanie Raybon, right, stood in line with her classmates at Ochard Knob Middle School in Tennessee on Aug. 12. Students have the choice not to wear masks in the state
Other studies around the world have come to the same conclusion, and Prasad noted a different study in Spain that looked at infection rates between masked and unmasked five- and six-year-old students.
The results of the study showed that the older, masked students, still transmitted rates higher than their younger, unmasked counterparts.
Prasad added that the masks faced another challenge, the fact that ‘little kids fidget with their masks.’
‘In addition to recommending masks for young kids, CDC guidelines also urge masks for most vaccinated caregivers who work in infant day-care centers.
‘Many studies support the importance of babies seeing caregivers’ faces, and prior to the arrival of COVID-19, many American professional organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, strongly agree’ he wrote.
Two out of every five parents oppose all masks in schools, no matter the child’s vaccination status, and just under half of U.S. K-12 parents want all students masked in the classroom, according to new survey from Gallup.
A small number – 11 percent – say mandates should only apply to unvaccinated students.
Students at Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 Center in Florida are wearing their amid the ongoing dispute of policies between the state and federal government
About half of K-12 parents want all children to wear masks at school, according to Gallup polling. 41 percent want no students wearing masks and 11 percent want only the unvaccinated to mask up
Similarly, 48 percent of parents want all teachers and staff masked, while 38 percent want no teachers masked and 13 percent want mandates only for unvaccinated teachers.
Prasad also warned that the push for masks could turn people off of COVID-19 vaccinations.
‘The evidence that supports vaccination is indisputable, in the form of multiple randomized studies, whereas the evidence to support school mask mandates for young kids is fragmentary at best,’ he wrote.
‘The problem with overselling unproven recommendations is that it risks turning people away from well-grounded ones.’
Prasad noted that because students had never had to deal with face coverings in the past, it is difficult to assess just how much children are being affected.
He ultimately urged researchers to rigorously test policies that mandate all kids to wear masks to fully understand the effects so they can be properly weighed against the dangers of COVID.
Dr. Brooke Decker, left, director of Infection Prevention in Pittsburg argues with anti-mask advocate Dana Gibson as Pennsylvania imposed a masking mandate for all students
Pro-masking advocates protested against the state’s push away from the policy in August
States continue to be divided over whether or not to pass sweeping policies on students wearing masks. Pictured, Santa Fe South High School students in Oklahoma City
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania became the latest state to require masks inside all public K-12 schools – joining states like New York and California.
Meanwhile, leaders in Florida, Texas, and other conservative-led states have banned local and school mask requirements.
In Florida, the debate over mask mandates has grown particularly heated, as Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration strips funding from districts that institute mask requirements.
DeSantis stripped funding even though a Florida state judge ruled DeSantis’ mandate ban unconstitutional. The governor promised to appeal the ruling, expecting that it will be overturned.
Meanwhile, President Biden’s administration is investigating five state bans, as Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona says that they may constitute civil rights violations for students with disabilities.
Debates over masking and vaccinations grow as the delta variant continues its spread across the country.
The U.S. reported nearly 40,000,000 new cases over the last 30 days and more than 638,000 deaths, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Nearly 75% of eligible adults have at least taken one jab of the vaccine.