COVID: Fewer cases in schools with mask rules, study says
About 30% of COVID-19 cases among students and staff in schools around Boston could have been prevented had mask requirements not been lifted, according to a new US study.
Researchers looked at more than 70 school districts, compared those with mandatory masks and those without, and found that wearing masks in schools was associated with a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases. .
The study found that metropolitan Boston school districts that lifted mask mandates last February had 44.9 COVID-19 cases per 1,000 students and staff in 15 weeks compared to schools that maintained masks. Added.
That’s about 12,000 cases of COVID-19 related to the lifting of mask mandates in the area, accounting for about 30% of all school district cases at that time.
The impact of masking was even clearer when looking only at COVID-19 among staff. In school districts that did not require masks, across the staff he added 81 cases per 1,000, nearly double the case rate in schools that maintained masking.
“Our research shows that universal masking is a key strategy for reducing transmission in schools, and mitigation to keep students and staff healthy and minimize the loss of in-person school days. Tori Cowger, lead author and Human Rights Fellow at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard Chan School of Health, said in a press release: increase.
“Our results also show that universal masking is associated with different risks of unequal conditions in schools, severe COVID-19, educational disruptions, and the health and economic impact of secondary infections in families. It suggests that it may be an important tool for mitigating connected structural inequities.”
The study comes amid calls from health experts and authorities to encourage Canadians to wear masks again if they stop wearing them. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has advised the public to “wear a mask whenever possible” on Sunday, and the state’s top doctor will recommend masks on Monday, but this advice has been muted in schools and businesses. It is unclear whether this will lead to mask mandates in some states.
Despite higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 than in 2021, mask mandates have all but disappeared in many parts of Canada this year.
As of November 7, 6,083 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Canada. Last year, he had the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 at any one time at 4,930, according to the federal government.
Study Says Masks Mean Fewer COVID-19 Children And Teachers
A number of studies have shown that wearing masks in public indoor spaces provides increased protection against COVID-19 and other airborne viruses, but the results for schools with mask requirements and those without masks differ. There are not many studies that can directly compare
Massachusetts lifted its universal masking mandate for public schools in February 2022, and the majority of schools responded by dropping their mask mandates.
Only two school districts, Boston and Chelsea, have decided to maintain mask requirements through June 2022, providing researchers with a great opportunity to compare incidence rates in schools with and without mask mandates. did.
The resulting study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this week, tracked 72 school districts in the Boston area for 15 weeks after statewide mask mandates were lifted.
This included over 294,000 students and 46,500 staff.
Prior to the lifting of statewide masking requirements, trends in COVID-19 cases were relatively similar across all school districts.
It wasn’t until some schools were no longer required to wear masks and others that they were no longer required to wear masks that new trends began to emerge.
A graph of COVID-19 incidence rates in the included school districts shows that cases increased across the board as community case levels rose. However, schools that lifted mask requirements saw a much higher number of infected than schools that did not lift mask requirements.
In the first school week after the statewide order was lifted, 46 school districts lifted their masking requirements, 17 school districts lifted their mandates in the second week, followed by 7 school districts in the third week. it was done. Only two school districts maintained masking requirements through the end of the school year.
Schools that lifted mask mandates in the first week had the highest rates of COVID-19 among staff across all districts, and schools that lifted mask mandates in the second week had the highest rate of COVID-19 among students themselves, as well as It also had the highest incidence among pupils and pupils. staff united.
The two districts that maintained mask mandates experienced approximately 10 COVID-19 cases per 100 students and staff each week during the peak period in late May.
At the same time, other school districts are experiencing 15 to 25 cases per 100 students each week, which is about 50 to 150 percent higher.
There was also a clear price to pay in terms of study time for students attending school without masking requirements. Additional cases related to lack of mandatory masking are at least 17,500 days and 6,500 days absent from school for children, researchers said, as anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 had to quarantine at home for at least five days. for that 15-week staff.
“This study clearly supports the importance of universal masking to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in school settings, especially when local COVID levels are high,” said Boston University School of Public Health. collaborator Eleanor Murray, assistant professor of epidemiology at Author, stated in the release. “Masks are reducing COVID-19 transmission in schools in a way that is equitable and easy to implement and should be part of a layered mitigation strategy.”
The researchers also found that school districts that chose to maintain masking requirements tended to have older buildings that may have poor ventilation or fewer windows, had higher student numbers per class, and generally It tends to serve low-income communities, and says universal masking could help — compensating for some of the inequalities poor students may already face.
COVID: Fewer cases in schools with mask rules, study says
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