Should schools bring back mask mandates?

Coronavirus

(NewsNation) — With the country facing a “tripledemic” of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is it time to bring back mask guidelines in schools?

The CDC has urged a return to masking in light of high levels of flu, RSV and COVID that have been overwhelming some hospitals.

In Philadelphia, officials will be requiring face coverings when students return from the winter break, while parents in Boston are advocating for their city to do the same.

Dr. Beth Ann Rosica is a parent in Philadelphia who doesn’t want to see schools return to masking. While she has a Ph.D in educational leadership, Rosica is not a trained medical doctor.

Rosica told NewsNation that especially since schools aren’t providing N95 masks, which provide the most protection, they should focus on other mitigation strategies.

“Schools should continue to do what they’ve always done and encourage handwashing, they should encourage children and parents to stay home when they’re sick. And to use the regular mitigation efforts to reduce the spread of illness and to reduce the spread of the virus,” she told NewsNation.

She said parents should be making masking decisions, not schools.

“I don’t think that there’s actually any evidence that supports bringing back this mass band aid in Philadelphia, we actually have more issues with school violence than we do with children contracting and spreading COVID 19,” Rosica said.

A study from the National Institutes of Health found schools with mandatory masking had 72% fewer COVID-19 cases than those that made masking optional.

Suleika Soto is a Boston parent who wants her city to bring back mask mandates as way to keep children both safe and in school, especially schools in older buildings without updated HVAC systems to provide better air filtration.

“It’s been shown that universal masking is way more effective than one way masking. So one way masking is not like yeah, it’s not as effective as universal masking,” Soto said.

She noted mask mandates would also protect students who are disabled or have medical issues that would require an exception to masking rules.

“There has been a lot of inequities with who is being mostly impacted by COVID. And, you know, cases have actually risen. We see the wastewater going up, there is a lot of data that we feel that asked for a mandate at the time right now,” she said.

Soto told NewsNation schools have a responsibility to provide a safe environment and with rising cases of illness, that includes mandating masks.

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