August 14, 2022

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Parents and medical experts are demanding that US schools stop forcing children to wear ‘ineffective’...

Parents and medical experts are demanding that US schools stop forcing children to wear ‘ineffective’ face masks as COVID-19 positivity rates continue to decline and studies have shown mask mandates are detrimental to psychosocial health and academic success.
Research also indicates there is ‘a minimal reduction in COVID transmission with masks in schools’ and minimal risk of deaths – while parents have repeatedly voiced that face coverings pose a greater hinderance to learning than they provide protection from the virus. 
Health experts also argue the current coronavirus trajectory suggests Americans should be able to return to normality this spring, as infection rates continue to go down. In response, some states have even moved to remove restrictions, such as masking in the classroom.
Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a MSNBC interview Friday the US should be ‘as aggressive’ in lifting COVID restrictions as ‘we were about putting them in place.’ 
‘[We should be] willing to relax some of these provisions that have created a lot of acrimony,’ Gottlieb said. ‘We want our kids to try to get back to some kind of semblance of normalcy.’  
The push for ending mandates also comes as the UK released a new study revealed masks are making it difficult for children to recognize faces and, in turn, could affect their ability to socialize and make friends.

Parents and medical experts are demanding that US schools stop forcing children to wear ‘ineffective’ face masks as COVID-19 positivity rates continue to decline and studies have shown mask mandates are detrimental to psychosocial health and academic success

Medical experts and parents alike are also pushing for schools to remove mandates, alleging several studies have found ‘no significant evidence that the kind of masking that is common in schools is worth it’.  
‘More and more experts have concluded that the evidence for masks in schools doesn’t hold up to scrutiny,’ Dr. Jennifer Knips, Internal Medicine Specialist and mother of four, echoed in a Time Magazine op-ed last week. ‘Many students wear cloth masks that provide little to no protection.’
‘There are several studies that show a minimal reduction in COVID-19 transmission with masks in schools, but the results were not statistically significant.’
A group of doctors pushing to unmask school children released a report in January titled Children, COVID and the Urgency of Normal that outlined why schools returning to normal operations is critical for children’s psychosocial health. 
‘The pandemic and the loss of normalcy are taking a tremendous toll on students, with the data on mental health being particularly,’ the report’s authors claim in a USA Today op-ed, alleging the American Academy of Pediatrics has declared a mental health emergency in children.
‘As the surgeon general recently highlighted, combined analyses of 80,000 children found that symptoms of depression and anxiety have doubled among young people during the pandemic, with 1 in 4 showing depressive symptoms and 1 in 5 showing anxiety.’

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The push to end mandates comes as the US is recording a declining number of positive COVID-19 cases following the Omicron surge

The US reported 104,104 new cases Sunday, bringing the total to 76,458,144. The death tally hit 902,266

Researcher Kristen Walsh, a North Jersey pediatrician, argued in the report that children ‘bear the burden’ of virus-related restrictions, such as masking and social distancing, but are still the least at-risk for severe illness from COVID. 
‘Everywhere where Omicron is receding, we don’t think it makes sense to be putting additional restrictions on kids when the variants are getting milder,’ researcher Kristen Walsh, a North Jersey pediatrician, wrote. 
‘Really, also, masking is what people are focusing on. But that’s only one facet of it. We just think that at this point, school should go back to normal for everybody. Like 2019 normal. Stop the quarantine, stop the silent lunches, stop making kids eat out in the cold. It’s not necessary and it’s doing a lot of harm.’
She and her colleagues believe districts should make wearing masks optional. 
The report claimed Omicron, which health authorities allege was responsible for an unprecedented nationwide surge in infections, is flu-like for unvaccinated children and that vaccinated, healthy children have ‘almost no risk’ for severe illness from it.
‘It’s a paradox that our most highly vaccinated states currently have the most stringent rules in place for [school] children,’ said Walsh.  
Face masks in schools are currently required in more than one dozen states and Washington DC, despite experts arguing the precautionary measure is ineffective without medical grade masks.
‘Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations,’ public health expert Dr. Leana Wen argued last December.
‘My point isn’t that we don’t need masks, but rather that we should require masks that are most effective to prevent disease transmission. Everyone, including children, should be wearing at least a three-ply surgical mask when indoors and around others of unknown vaccination status.’

Research has indicated there is ‘a minimal reduction in COVID transmission with masks in schools’ and, as parents have repeatedly voiced, that face coverings pose a greater hinderance to learning than they provide protection from the virus

However, most school children are not wearing medical grade face coverings as they likely don’t have access to them.  
‘As the days go by there is less and less science supporting masks,’ New York City parent Tom Hadziyianis told DailyMail.com Monday, arguing the ordinances are not about the safety of school children, but instead seem to be administrators ‘exercising power just to exercise it.’
‘If it was truly about the health of the children the requirement would be medical grade masks, but because they know they cannot enforce that – it’s impossible at this late junction – they keep going with this known ineffective policy,’ he said.
Similarly, the US masking policy is the outlier in regard to COVID restrictions, Knips alleges. She claims many European schools remained open without masks and that the US schools that have remained maskless have ‘not seen major outbreaks over the past two years’. 
She also noted the World Health Organization advises against masks for children under age five and claims they are only selective for kids younger than 11. 
In wake of the evolving data, several states have moved to eliminate mask mandates.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf rescinding his state’s mask mandate last month and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat who imposed arguably some of the strictest pandemic mandates in the US, will be lifting his statewide school mask mandate on March 7 in response to the declining case and hospitalization rates.   
The move comes as the state’s seven-day average for positive tests now stands at 2,634, a 51 percent decline from last week. That is the state’s lowest seven-day average since December 3.  
Hospitalizations from confirmed or suspected COVID cases also continued a steady decline, down about 66 percent from January 11. 
Deaths from COVID among children is even more rare. CDC data show that around 8.3 million children have contracted Covid and 841 have died since the pandemic began in March 2020.
This means that children make up around 12 percent of cases and less than 0.1 percent of deaths in the U.S. The Census estimates that 22 percent of Americans are under the age of 18.
Murphy told the New York Times he will announce the elimination of the mandate Monday afternoon.  Governors in New York and Connecticut are considering changes to their own policies.  

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will be lifting the state’s school mask mandate on March 7 in response to New Jersey’s declining case and hospitalization rates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first issued its recommendation for ‘universal masking’ in schools in February 2021. The health authority also pushed for students to maintain a social distance of six feet.
Since it’s initial recommendation, the health authority has conducted several studies to determine the efficacy of masking in schools.
A study conducted last May, comparing Georgia schools with and without mask mandates, reportedly found that masking of teachers was associated with a statistically significant reduction of COVID transmission, however masking of students was not.
An ecological study, conducted in September, found that ‘counties without school mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates after the start of school compared with counties that had school mask requirements.’ 
However, the study did not take into account vaccination rates or other COVID safeguards, which researchers argue are important variables. As a result, the researchers noted ‘causation cannot be inferred’.  
An Arizona-based study, published the same day, also found COVID outbreaks were more common with schools that did not mandate masks. Similarly, the study did not  control for vaccination rates or other safeguards and has been highly criticized by public health experts.  
A new study released in the UK has also revealed that face masks could be making it more difficult for children to recognize faces – and in turn could affect their ability to make friends.
Researchers from York University found that face masks make it 20 percent more difficult for children to recognize faces, compared to just 15 percent in adults.
‘[This] could impair children’s ability to navigate through social interactions with their peers and teachers, and this could lead to issues forming important relationships,’ said Dr. Erez Freud, who led the study.
‘Given the importance of faces to social interactions, this is something we need to pay attention to.’

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The team recruited 72 children aged six to 14, who were presented with images of faces with or without masks, both upright and inverted

While previous research has found that mask-wearing can hinder facial recognition in adults, this is the first time it has been studied in children.
Freud explained: ‘Faces are among the most important visual stimuli.
‘We use facial information to determine different attributes about a person, including their gender, age, mood and intentions.
‘We use this information to navigate through social interactions.’
The team recruited 72 children aged six to 14, who were presented with images of faces with or without masks, both upright and inverted.
The results showed that children had about a 20 percent impairment rate for recognizing masked faces.
For comparison, previous research has shown that adults have about a 15 percent impairment rate.

The results showed that children had about a 20 percent impairment rate for recognizing masked faces. For comparison, previous research has shown that adults have about a 15 percent impairment rate

Meanwhile, the results also showed that children process faces differently when looking at a masked, and unmasked face.
Usually, humans process faces as a whole, rather than by their individual features – known as holistic processing.
However, the researchers found that when children looked at masked faces, they became more analytical, focusing on individual features.
‘Not only do masks hinder the ability of children to recognize faces, but they also disrupt the typical, holistic way that faces are processed,’ Freud said.
The researchers hope their findings will encourage future research into the effects face masks have on children’s ability to recognize faces and make friends. 
Freud concluded: ‘With children back to school with mask mandates once again, future research should explore the social and psychological ramifications of wearing masks on children’s educational performance.’

 

Parents and medical experts demand ending mask mandates in schools as COVID rates plummet appeared first on maserietv.com.