A new study published this month revealed that COVID-19 mask mandates in schools have little to no effect.
Researchers evaluated two school districts in Fargo, North Dakota, in which one had a mask mandate and the other did not during the 2021–2022 academic year.
"We observed no significant difference between student case rates while the districts had differing masking policies nor while they had the same mask policies," they noted, adding that the "impact of school-based mask mandates on COVID-19 transmission in children is not fully established" amid mandates nationwide.
A number of other studies have found no link between mask mandates and a drop in COVID-19 cases.
“Cornell’s experience shows that traditional public health interventions were not a match for Omicron. While vaccination protected against severe illness, it was not sufficient to prevent rapid spread, even when combined with other public health measures including widespread surveillance testing," the paper said.
And researchers in Spain found that mask mandates for children in Spain weren’t linked to a lower rate of COVID-19 cases or transmission.
In an evaluation of schoolchildren, kids aged 6 and older in Catalonia were required to wear masks once school reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers said.
Their study identified a much lower case rate in preschool, where there were no mandates when compared to older groups who were required to wear masks. Five-year-olds, for instance, had an incidence of 3.1 percent, while 6-year-olds had an incidence of 3.5 percent.
“School districts that choose to mandate masks are likely to be systematically different from those that do not in multiple, often unobserved, ways. We failed to establish a relationship between school masking and pediatric cases using the same methods but a larger, more nationally diverse population over a longer interval,” the researchers said.