COVID- In comparison to comparable districts that maintained the mandate, rates of 19 among schoolchildren increased in districts after mask regulations were withdrawn, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
After Massachusetts education officials lifted statewide school masking regulations in February 2022, the authors of the study examined infection rates in school districts in the Boston area.
The removal of the requirement by school districts at various times or not at all was what led to a natural experiment in the effects of mask requirements. Boston and the nearby Chelsea school districts both kept the requirement throughout the study period, according to Time.
12,000 instances, or almost 30% of all cases throughout the research period, were brought on by the removal of the mask requirement. According to the report, this led to at least 17,500 student absences and 6,500 staff absences.
In comparison to the more affluent districts that relaxed the mask requirement, “school districts that maintained required masking more frequently had school buildings in poor condition, crowded classrooms, and a higher proportion of individuals more vulnerable to harmful health outcomes, including those with disabilities.”
According to Time, the findings cast doubt on the notion that wealthier areas can unmask more easily due to lower transmission risk and higher vaccination rates. Schools that no longer required masks saw a significant increase in cases, even in those that were “structurally more prepared to avoid and mitigate disease.”