There’s Little Rationale for Masking School Kids, but Teachers Unions Are Demanding It
Last May, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided that many Americans could relax their vigilant mask wearing, the leaders of the nation’s top teachers union were furious.
The National Education Association (NEA) swiftly intervened to ensure that the CDC would still advise masking in schools, regardless of vaccination status. According to documents obtained by Fox News, the NEA threatened to release a letter excoriating the CDC’s guidance. This prompted government health officials to clarify that masks should still be worn in all schools.
The NEA’s meddling is unsurprising: Earlier this year, teachers unions mounted a similar effort to persuade the Biden White House to slow down on school reopening. This is the role the teachers unions have claimed for themselves throughout the pandemic: create obstacles to prevent children’s lives from returning to normal for as long as possible. It’s a role that American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten clearly relishes. Her Twitter feed is filled with demands that students be masked, distanced, and quarantined as often as necessary.
It’s worth noting that masks are of dubious importance for school children. There’s scant evidence that putting kids in masks makes them any safer from the ill effects of COVID-19. New York magazine’s David Zweig reviewed 17 different studies cited by the CDC and found little reason to believe that masks were making a difference in schools. (Better ventilation seemed to be the much more important mitigation strategy.) Young people, after all, are at extremely low risk of suffering a negative health outcome associated with COVID-19. The disease has claimed the lives of fewer than 400 people under the age of 18, many of them with underlying health problems. For most kids, COVID-19 does not pose a greater statistical risk than the flu—masks just don’t m
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