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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Remasking kids in cold season

Forcing children to wear masks in school is pointless and cruel, argues Zachary Faria in the Washington Examiner. "Public school students in Philadelphia will be forcibly masked for 10 days when they return from their winter break in January," he writes. Passaic, New Jersey teachers posted shots of their holiday party -- no masks in sight -- but children will be required to wear masks once again.

Boston schools are considering a temporary masking mandate in hopes of preventing transmission of colds, flu and Covid, the so-called "tripledemic."

Dr. Shira Doron, a Tufts epidemiologist, called masking children a "mistake." People are "living their lives normally outside of school buildings," she told CBS News. She suggests that sick people stay home and students and teachers wash their hands frequently.

Ignore the tripledemic hype, writes Joel Zinberg, a medical professor and director of Paragon Health Institute’s Public Health and American Well-being Initiative, in City Journal. The flu and RSV season hit earlier than usual, but cases are now declining, he writes. "Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths had been down for months, only rising recently to relatively low levels."

The bottom line is that every winter brings an uptick in respiratory illnesses. This year, Covid is part of that mix. But the current surge does not warrant the return of pandemic-era controls. Such measures are not only unnecessary but would also likely prove ineffective.

A pre-Covid review of research found mask wearing made "little or no difference" to the spread of respiratory viral illnesses, writes Zinberg. As for Covid, "scant evidence supports school masking," he writes. "Sweden, which kept schools open without mask mandates, found little evidence of in-school disease transmission, either between students or between children and adults."

Furthermore, Swedish teachers weren't more likely than those in other occupations to be hospitalized with Covid. The Covid death rate for Swedish children was zero.

There and here, "the risk for healthy children — the overwhelming majority of kids — is practically nonexistent," concludes Zinberg.

School masking does have risks. "Children with and without hearing impairment have been found to have impaired word identification in settings with mask wearing," he writes. "And face masks also appear to interfere with social communications by impairing the recognition of emotions."

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