The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new studies Friday showing that applying masks in schools helps reduce the spread of.
One study looked at data from schools in Arizona’s Maricopa and Pima counties after they resumed in-person learning in late July for the 2021-22 academic year. The two counties represent approximately 75% of the state’s population.
the CDC found that K-12 schools that did not have mask requirements at the beginning of the school year were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID outbreaks than schools that required all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors from the first day of college.
Of the 999 schools analyzed in the study, 21% had an early mask requirement, 30.9% enacted a mask requirement between nine and 17 days after the start of the school year, and 48% had no mask requirement . Of the 191 COVID outbreaks that occurred in those schools from July 15 to August 31, 113 were in schools that did not apply masks at all. Schools with early mask requirements had the fewest outbreaks.
During that time period, Arizona was experiencing an upward trend in weekly COVID cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Another study of the CDC analyzed the impact of school mask mandates in the US.
The authors looked at data from 520 counties that started school between July 1 and September 4 of this year and had at least a full week of case data from the school year. They only looked at counties where all schools had the same mask policies. Of the 520 counties, 198 had a school mask requirement and 322 did not.
The researchers found that counties that did not have mask requirements in their schools had a higher rate of pediatric COVID cases after the school year began than schools that did. Schools that required masks, the study found, had 16.32 cases per 100,000 children in the first week of school; schools without had 34.85 cases per 100,000 children.
However, the authors noted that all county children were included in the data and not just those of school age. They also noted that teacher vaccination rates and school test data were not controlled in the analyzes, and the sample size for counties is small.
In both studies, the authors reiterated that “correct and consistent use of masks is a critical strategy” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Adolescents have recently formed the most weekly cases, according to the CDC, and older adults make up one of the lowest weekly case numbers.
The new research comes amid ongoing debates over the mandates of the masks, a hot topic in some parts of the country.
Multiple states, including, Texas and Arizona have tried to ban school districts from applying masks. Meanwhile, schools in Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee are from the Department of Education for his mask mandate bans, with the department saying the decision may endanger the health of students.
TOin August it found that while more than half of the parents surveyed believe schools should require masks for children, 36% believe they should be optional and 6% think they should not be allowed at all. In addition, 52% of the parents surveyed think that vaccinations should not be required of students.
The CDC has held that universal interior masking it is an important tool to help prevent the spread. The agency says that all teachers, staff, students and visitors in K-12 schools must wear masks, regardless of their immunization status.