Masks in the classroom should not be mandatory: The right to choose
Covid-19 is an aerosol-sized respiratory illness. As recently as 2010, the US National Academy of Sciences declared that, in the community setting, “face masks are not designed or certified to protect the wearer from exposure to respiratory hazards.” A number of studies have shown the inefficacy of the non surgical mask in household settings to prevent transmission of the influenza virus. (doi: 10.1503/cmaj.151236) In a Bangladesh study, the authors suggest cloth masks had essentially no effect, or what the authors called “an imprecise zero” in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in anyone under 50 years of age. BC Health Officer, Bonnie Henry, attested to masking and transmission in the 2015 Ontario Nurses Arbitration saying, “there’s very scant evidence about the value of masks in preventing the transmission of influenza.”
On April 8, 2021 a German Court ruled against masks, social distancing, and testing for students. The court stated, "the measures now prohibited, represent a present danger to the mental, physical or psychological well-being of the child to such an extent that, if they continue to develop without intervention, considerable harm can be foreseen with a high degree of certainty. The children are physically, psychologically, and pedagogically damaged and their rights are violated without any benefit for the children themselves or third parties." Further, according to the German court's conviction, “school administrators, teachers and others cannot invoke the state-law regulations on which the measures are based, because they are unconstitutional and thus void." (doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-124394/v2)
Common side-effects of mask wearing include headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, reduced ability to concentrate, dermatitis, carbon dioxide toxicity and reductions in cognitive function. Also, given that the development of neurodegenerative diseases can take years to manifest, we cannot ignore the potential long-term harms of continual mask usage. The stressful impact of masking also runs the risk of having a damaging and permanent impact on our child’s immune system. Additional medical harms caused by masks include psychological issues, lack of interpersonal skills, anxiety, speech delays, poor dentition from increased biofilm, increased sinus infections, and exposure to dangerous pathogens. (DOI: https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-124394/v2)
There is relatively little research on mask wearing behavior and compliance in children, particularly in the grades K-3, however, from the few studies conducted it is suggested that compliance decreases with age (doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7008e4) and compliance levels decrease significantly in connection when children are in the washroom, lunch times, in a cafeteria, at recess, during nap times, etc..
A study on suicide ideation and attempts in a Pediatric Emergency Department Before and During Covid-19 suggests months with significantly higher rates of suicide-related behaviors appear to correspond to times when COVID-19–related stressors and community responses were heightened, indicating that youth experienced elevated distress during these periods. (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-029280)
An Italian report on how masks impair how we read emotions heightens the potential effects of mask wearing, particularly in younger aged children. This report demonstrates that face masks influence the human ability to infer emotions by observing facial configurations. Specifically, a mask obstructing a face limits the ability of people of all ages to infer emotions expressed by facial features, but the difficulties associated with the mask’s use are significantly pronounced in children aged between 3 and 5 years old. These findings are of essential importance, as they suggest that we live in a time that may potentially affect the development of social and emotional reasoning, and young children’s future social abilities should be monitored to assess the true impact of the use of masks. (doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.669432)
A German study revealed that face masks diminish people’s ability to accurately categorize an emotion expression and make target persons appear less close. Exploratory analyses further revealed that face masks buffered the negative effect of negative (vs. non-negative) emotion expressions on perceptions of trustworthiness, likability, and closeness. Associating face masks with the coronavirus’ dangers predicted higher perceptions of closeness for masked but not for unmasked faces. By highlighting face masks’ effects on social functioning, our findings inform policymaking and point at contexts where alternatives to face masks are needed. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0249792 Given the fact that the very process of learning is facilitated by emotions, face masks are likely to interfere with pedagogy.
As parents/legal guardians/caregivers/loving members of the community in the best interest of our children, do hereby request interior health change the mask protocol to OPTIONAL Masks for all K-12, especially with it being amended to include K-3 students. The schools have the incredible task of working with parents to keep our children safe, not only physically, but also socially and emotionally. We are asking you to allow parents and children to continue to have a choice.
- A choice over the medical decisions that impact our children.
- A choice to weigh the pros and cons of this as it impacts each of our children individually.
- A choice so we can all ensure our children experience a positive and safe school year from all sides of the health spectrum.