🇺🇸📝😷@COVID19Up: School masking has undoubtedly been one of the COVID’s most infuriating issues. The case for masking by the general public has quite obviously always been weak, considering there was no pre-pandemic planning that suggested masking would ever be beneficial.
But the case to mask children has always been significantly worse.
Even Professor Francois Balloux, a self-described COVID “centrist,” who is rarely prone to extreme declarations or hyperbole, admitted recently that the masking of young children is “the most bizarre public health policy ever.”
There is obviously a tremendous amount of research and data proving that mask mandates are ineffective, especially in schools—yet the policy continues in many parts of the country.
However, a new study out provides some important new evidence with regards to the efficacy of mask mandates. The study authors included several credentialed experts like Tracy Høeg and USC’s Neeraj Sood, along with one extremely qualified data analyst, Josh Stevenson.
The introduction explains the methodology and goals:
“School districts across the nation have implemented mask mandates for children in the hope of reducing COVID-19 transmission, but the impact of school-based mask mandates on COVID-19 transmission in children is not fully established. While observational studies of school mask mandates have had conflicting results, randomized studies have failed to detect an impact of masking on participants under 50 years of age [1-6]. Here we report the results of a natural experiment in two large K-12 school districts in Fargo, North Dakota, Fargo Public Schools (FPS) and West Fargo Public Schools (WF), to estimate the association between school mask mandates and COVID-19 infections. Our study population is unique because the districts are adjacent to each other in the same county and have similar student demographics, COVID-19 mitigation policies and staff vaccination rates. At the start of the Fall 2021 semester, FPS mandated masks and WF did not. On January 17, 2022, FPS also moved to a mask optional policy, creating a unique natural experiment to study school-based mask mandates.”
While not a purely randomized controlled trial, this is about as good of a natural experiment as you’re going to get. We have two similar populations, with similar vaccination rates and demographics that are quite literally right next to each other.
The results? There was no statistically significant benefit to mandating masks in schools, in a comparison between two school districts located right next to each other, sharing very similar population demographics and secondary mitigation policies.