Top Children's Hospital Says School Mask Mandates Should End Now
With mask mandates for students and teachers increasingly under fire, one of the major children’s hospitals in the country is recommending that facial coverings no longer be required.
Dr. David Rubin, director of the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said masks should not be considered necessary, WCAU-TV reported Monday.
“We are in a very different moment in this pandemic,” Rubin told the station.
Rubin suggested that it is finally time to start getting back to normal in the school setting, particularly since cases of COVID-19 omicron variant among children are more on the level of other seasonal viruses.
“This is a moment to start beginning talking about removing the scaffolding and trying to reduce the restrictions that have been placed on kids because the risks, in terms of their mental health, in terms of continued learning loss, those types of things, were now far greater than the virus itself,” Rubin said.
He also suggested that it is fine to keep mask recommendations in schools, but not requirements.
“I think as we hit February here, we are going to see an increasing number of schools now moving to these more of a mask recommendation than a mask requirement. And I think we have to start recognizing that these choices have to return to families,” Rubin said.
In January, Rubin also advocated for fully re-opening schools and getting kids back into normal school settings, NPR reported.
He pointed to the fact that children are not as susceptible to the virus and that for the sake of mental health and normality, they should be in regular school settings.
“The spectrum of illness is very consistent with what we take care of each year, and we’re actually seeing fewer kids in the ICU proportionally this phase,” Rubin told NPR.
He also argued that the harm being done from keeping kids at home or in abnormal settings is now outweighing the good of keeping them from getting COVID.
“For kids now, depriving them of educational access, continuing social isolation, continuing this reflexive anxiety to stay away from others, that’s really detrimental at this point. I would argue that the risks of that now far outweigh the risks of the disease itself,” Rubin told NPR.
However, despite the recommendation from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to, not only keep schools fully open, but also stop requiring masks, the Philadelphia school district and teachers unions are against it.
“CHOP got major push back from teacher’s unions, even though teachers were among the first to get the vaccine, most spread happening outside the classroom,” WCAU reported.
The school district also just introduced a stricter mask policy than it had. According to KYW-TV, the district announced last week that cloth masks, which had previously been acceptable, would no longer be enough. Students and staff would now be required to wear N95, KN95 or KF94 surgical masks.
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole defended the policy by citing the fact that many adults across the city have not yet been vaccinated and said children are doing fine with masks.
“With children of all ages…they’re quite resilient. They do very well with masking. Of course, we would all love to get rid of those masks,” Bettigole said.
“I understand the CHOP PolicyLab perspective, but when we look across the city, we still see, we have 250,000 adults who are still unvaccinated,” she added.
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