A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims schools that did not have mask requirements had more outbreaks of COVID-19 – despite a another recent study finding classrooms were not linked to frequent cases.
Researchers from the federal health agency looked at case rates at nearly 1,000 K-12 schools in Arizona that did or did not require students to wear face coverings.
They said that schools without a mask mandate had 3.5-fold more outbreaks than those that did have such mandates in place.
It comes just a week after a study from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) published data that showed less than 0.1 percent each of pupils and staff members tested positive for the virus over the course of a month.
What’s more, only about 0.2 percent of students or teachers who came into contact with a Covid patient later tested positive themselves.
A new CDC report looked at nearly 1,000 K-12 schools in two Arizona counties without and without mask requirements. Pictured: Students arrive for the first day of school at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview, Florida, August 2021
Researchers claim this shows that schools without mask mandates have 3.5 times more outbreaks than those those with face covering requirements (above)
Currently, the CDC recommends universal masking indoors for all students and staff above age two, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.
However, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outdoors while those who haven’t received their shots yet are recommended to if they are in a crowded setting.
For the new report, published on Friday, the CDC looked at schools for the 2021-22 school year in Maricopa and Pima counties in Arizona, which account for 75 percent of the state’s population.
Schools were split into three categories: no mask requirement, early mask requirement and late mask requirement.
An early mask requirement was defined a rule that all pupils and workers wear masks indoors at all times put in place when the school year began.
A late mask requirement was defined as a similar rule, but not instituted until after the year began.
Overall, 999 public, non-charter schools were analyzed between July 15, 2021 and August 31, 2021.
Of the schools, nearly half – 48 percent – had no mask requirement, 21 percent percent had an early requirement and 31 percent had a late requirement.
Over the course of the study period, the CDC reports that 191 outbreaks of COVID-19 occurred at these schools.
A total of 59.2 percent of the Covid outbreaks, 113, were in schools without a mask requirement.
New data from the LA County Department of Public Health found a total of 7,995 students out of 1.5 million, or 0.5%, and 1,193 staff out of 157,000, or 0.7%, have tested positive for COVID-19, which officials say is evidence that Covid transmission is low in schools
Meanwhile, 62 outbreaks, 32.5 percent, were in schools with late mask requirements and 16 outbreaks, 8.4 percent, were in schools with early mask requirements.
After adjusting for factors, such as ZIP codes and the number of students enrolled, the report claimed counties were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks if they did not have a mask requirement at the start of school.
‘Universal masking is an important component in the recommended layered prevention strategy for schools, and this study continues to demonstrate that facemasks when used as part of the largest strategy can reduce spread of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks in schools,’ the CDC said in a statement.
However, this just comes just a week after a report from the LADPH found COVID-19 outbreaks in schools are not common with few students and teachers testing positive – and a very small number of close contacts contracting the virus.
New data published online found that, between August 15 and September 13, 7,995 students and 1,193 staff tested positive for COVID-19.
With about than 1.5 million students in county schools and 175,000 staff that means 0.5 percent of children and 0.7 percent workers have contracted the virus since schools reopening.
Additionally, a very small percentage of children have tested positive after coming into contact with infected individuals.
According to the LADPH, more than 30,000 students and staff were forced to quarantine for seven days after being in contact with a patient.
However, just 63 of them went on to test positive themselves, equivalent to 0.2 percent.
Health officials from the LADPH say COVID-19 protocols followed by the schools are likely cause for the low numbers, including indoor masking and universal testing by the Los Angeles Unified School District.