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IWN Staff
May 1, 2023 - 5 minutes
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Letter: Opt Out of Your Child Wearing Masks

*PDF Download: Opt Out of Your Child Wearing Masks

Dear _____:

I am writing to share my thoughts on masking kids. Kids should not be forced to wear masks in school. 

I know you have to make a lot of tough decisions, and you can’t please everyone. I am aware that some in the community may not agree with my perspective. I hope that our community can have an open and honest discussion about this topic, and I hope that we will make decisions based on the facts and not politics or emotion.

I’ll try to be brief but here are a few points that summarize my reasons for not supporting mandatory masks for children in schools:

  • COVID doesn’t pose a serious health risk to most children. And the risks to most adults have been mitigated and have decreased. 
  • Students and adults in our community (teachers, school staff, parents and family members) have now had a chance to get vaccinated/boosted.
  • Because many people have now had the virus, which has given them natural immunity, the risk of serious illness from infection is low.
  • Effective antiviral medications are now available.
  • Masking has not been shown to be effective at reducing the spread of COVID, or other respiratory viruses, in schools.
    • The best way to determine the efficacy of a particular medical intervention is to conduct a randomized clinical trial. The gold standard for this type of scientific research is the NIH-funded Cochrane, the world’s most respected organization for this type of inquiry. It is considered “the best single resource for methodologic research” and is “recognized worldwide as the highest standard in evidence-based healthcare.”
    • In January 2023, Cochrane published a thorough review of the literature on masks, including trials during the Covid-19 pandemic in hospitals and in community settings. The 15 trials compared outcomes of wearing of surgical masks versus wearing no masks, and also versus N95 masks. The review, conducted by a dozen researchers from six countries, concludes that wearing any kind of face covering “probably makes little or no difference” in reducing the spread of respiratory illness.
    • Other studies have come to similar conclusions: A cluster randomized trial in Bangladesh on masking in adults (not children or schools) showed that wearing a cloth mask was not effective. In adults, widespread use of surgical masks helped reduce the spread of COVID.
    • In Spain, where children 5 and under do not mask in school and children 6 and over do, researchers (in a regression discontinuity study) found no difference in the rate of spread between 5 year olds and 6 year olds. 
    • You may have seen some studies showing an association between school mask mandates and lower pediatric cases of COVID. Many of these studies are seriously flawed because they do not correct for other factors, like vaccination rates, testing rates, general population health, and other COVID precautions. It is difficult, in observational studies like these, to isolate or demonstrate the effect of mask mandates.
    • The burden of proof that masking works lies with those who would seek to mandate masking. This is the case with any intervention. 
  • We know about the significant downsides of mask-wearing for children
    • Masking kids is associated with: increases in anxiety and depression; decreases in communication and socialization skill development; increases in headaches, face rashes and redness, and impaired facial recognition; and increases in tooth decay. We also now know that masks can be detrimental to babies’ speech and language development.
    • Another study has shown that masking reduces intelligibility and recall for listeners. This has to have implications for educational settings. 
    • The impact of masking on schoolchildren merits more study. In the absence of more information, this judgment call should be left up to parents, who know best how masking might affect their child. If parents want their child to wear a mask, the school should allow it. But the educational cost of face coverings is far better established than the benefits of mandates.
  • The rest of the world (outside of the U.S.) seems to understand that masks on kids are not a good idea. 
    • The World Health Organization has held since August 2020 that no one under the age of 5 should be required to wear a mask. European countries, like the U.K. and France, did not require masks on young children even in school settings, even at the height of the pandemic.
    • From this article: “It’s important that primary schoolchildren don’t wear face coverings,” says Public Health England’s medical adviser Dr. Susan Hopkins. She explains that this is because COVID poses a low risk to children and that wearing face coverings “could affect their development.”

Below are some links to more articles that expand on some of these points and more.

Article on the new Cochrane Study

The Downsides of Masking Young Children are Real

I’m a Doctor. Here’s Why My Kids Won’t Wear Masks This School Year

Let my children take off their masks, the science says it is safe 

Mandatory Masking of School Children is a Bad Idea

Young kids are at low COVID risk in schools, but masking them could do long-term damage 

Masking children: What does the science say?

It’s 98 Degrees Out. Why Is My Child Wearing a Mask?

Thanks for reading this email and considering these facts. Of course, the COVID pandemic required many changes to our lives for some time. And I know many people lost their lives to COVID, and many people’s fears of illness persist. 

I also understand and feel the continued concern about sickness in school. I too want my children to stay healthy so that they can learn and continue to attend school!  

But masks on schoolchildren – especially at this point – are, in my view, more harmful than beneficial. As a parent, I can’t ignore this. I hope you understand; I have to speak up for what is best for my kids. Thanks for considering my perspective! I am happy to talk more. 

Best,

NAME

IWN Staff
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