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New Study Provides Further Evidence School Mask Mandates Did Not Lower Covid Case Rates

A new study proves once again what parents and educators should already know: Mask mandates were entirely ineffective at stopping the spread of Covid-19 throughout the pandemic.

It is vital to revisit this issue as Biden administration officials decry the harm done to children’s educational and social development throughout the Covid response. It wasn’t the virus itself that did the brunt of the damage, it was the experts’ policies.

The new study in pre-print publication at Research Square focuses on North Dakota schools, but it reinforces the conclusions of more sweeping studies, such as one published at “The Lancet” in May.

The researchers from the University of Southern California, University of California, Davis and Truth in Data, LLC, unpacked the school mask mandate data.

“School districts across the nation have implemented mask mandates for children in the hope of reducing COVID-19 transmission, but the impact of school-based mask mandates on COVID-19 transmission in children is not fully established,” the authors write. “While observational studies of school mask mandates have had conflicting results, randomized studies have failed to detect an impact of masking on participants under 50 years of age.”

“Here we report the results of a natural experiment in two large K-12 school districts in Fargo, North Dakota, Fargo Public Schools (FPS) and West Fargo Public Schools (WF), to estimate the association between school mask mandates and COVID-19 infections,” the authors continue. “Our study population is unique because the districts are adjacent to each other in the same county and have similar student demographics, COVID-19 mitigation policies and staff vaccination rates. At the start of the Fall 2021 semester, FPS mandated masks and WF did not. On January 17, 2022, FPS also moved to a mask optional policy, creating a unique natural experiment to study school-based mask mandates.”

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The authors conclusions clearly demonstrate that there was no significant difference between the school districts.

“We observed no significant difference between student case rates while the districts had differing masking policies (IRR 0.99; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.07) nor while they had the same mask policies (IRR 1.04; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.16),” the concluded. ” The IRRs across the two periods were also not significantly different (p = 0.40).  Our findings contribute to a growing body of literature which suggests school-based mask mandates have limited to no impact on the case rates of COVID-19 among K-12 students.”

Indeed, the mask mandate-less West Fargo district had a lower spike than the mandated Fargo Public School District. Lest someone believe this is a fluke, it jibes with findings from multiple datasets.

The CDC’s mask mandate was recently unpacked in research article entitled, “Revisiting Pediatric COVID-19 Cases in Counties With and Without School Mask Requirements—United States, July 1—October 20 2021.” The results were unfavorable for the CDC’s support of school mask mandates.

The researchers, Ambarish Chandra from the University of Toronto and Tracy Beth Høeg from the UC Cal-Davis, point out their methodology of examining the CDC’s mask mandate claims.

“Our study replicates a highly cited CDC study showing a negative association between school mask mandates and pediatric SARS-CoV-2 cases,” the authors state. “We then extend the study using a larger sample of districts and a longer time interval, employing almost six times as much data as the original study. We examine the relationship between mask mandates and per-capita pediatric cases, using multiple regression to control for differences across school districts.”

Emily Burns and Joshua Stevenson also used a national dataset to issue a study of their own that meshes with these findings.

Burbio.com has been tracking weekly mask status for the 500 largest school districts, comprising approximately 40% of the nations ~51 million public school students,” they state.

“With these data in hand, the question is, ‘Is there a difference in the case rates between masked and un-masked districts?’”

“The result of that analysis is below,” they state. “As you can see, except for a slight edge in October, masked districts fare 2-4x worse than un-masked districts.”

“This pattern is remarkably similar to that visible in Emily Oster’s data from the 2020/21 school year, and analyzed by @boriquagato,” they add. “That is, un-masked schools showed higher case rates early in the year, around October, but later in the year, case rates in masked schools vastly outstripped them. According to Emily Oster, ‘We do not find any correlations with mask mandates’.”

The U.K.’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in January published data that showed children who “never” or “sometimes” wear masks at work or school were less likely compared to those who “always” wear them.

There is mounting evidence that public health officials’ response to Covid-19 was not only futile, but it did lasting damage to an entire generation of kids.

A May story in the New York Times gave the testimonials of 326 school counselors on the pandemic’s effect on children.

“American schoolchildren’s learning loss in the pandemic isn’t just in reading and math,” the Times said. “It’s also in social and emotional skills — those needed to make and keep friends; participate in group projects; and cope with frustration and other emotions.”

“In a survey of 362 school counselors nationwide by The New York Times in April, the counselors — licensed educators who teach these skills — described many students as frozen, socially and emotionally, at the age they were when the pandemic started,” the report noted.

President Joe Biden underscored this childhood development crisis in a recent tweet.

“Due to the pandemic, kids are behind in math and reading,” Biden claimed. “We know how to help bridge this gap. I’m calling on schools to use American Rescue Plan funds to expand tutoring, summer learning, and afterschool programs and to provide 250,000 more tutors and mentors for our kids.”

But it wasn’t the “pandemic” that caused the crisis: Children were never at more risk from Covid-19 than the seasonal flu. The school mask mandates, imposed without valid scientific data to support them, caused unnecessary harm to America’s schoolchildren that may take years to unwind.

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