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They're Back: Philadelphia Schools Return to Failed Forced Masking Policies

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

As we've been saying, the reason we keep writing about the effects of COVID restrictions imposed on children is that a substantial number of adults with power seem positively eager to maintain or reimpose those restrictions.  It doesn't matter whether the mitigation measure has proven effective or ineffective.  If an opportunity presents itself for safetyists to flex control and demonstrate responsiveness to the supposed need to 'do something,' it's full speed ahead.  The science and the wellbeing of children are afterthoughts. We recently mentioned how Boston's adult sports fans can pack into crowded indoor arenas to scream their heads off, but K-12 students in public schools are required to mask up.  This encompasses outdoor masking while on school property, it would seem, based on the way the regulations are written.  Yes, the population least vulnerable to serious COVID infections is forced to wear face coverings all day long, but virtually nobody else is.  Insanity.  And the insanity is again spreading (see update below), this time to another Democrat-dominated, mandate-addicted northeastern city:

William R. Hite Jr., the superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, announced on Friday that “all school district students and staff will be required to wear their masks during the school and work day and while riding on school buses and vans” until further notice. The superintendent emphasized that the district was remaining flexible to adjust to new threats from Covid-19. “As we’ve learned since the pandemic began, the coronavirus continues to evolve and so too will our response to it,” he said in a statement. And that is not new to the city. Last month, Philadelphia became the first major American city to reinstate an indoor mask mandate in response to rising coronavirus cases, only to have its health department decide four days later to lift the order because of improving conditions. Bringing back a mask order would seem to be in line with federal recommendations. Last week, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that a third of Americans live in areas where the threat of Covid is so high that they should consider wearing a mask in indoor public settings. Dr. Walensky cited the spread of the virus and the rise in hospitalizations across the country.

It is not an 'evolution' to turn the clock back to failed policies that don't work, and in fact cause disproportionate harm. And the fact that Philly's backsliding in mandatory child masking is "in line with federal recommendations" is not a defense of the city's decision, so much as it's an indictment of the federal health bureaucracy.  We have cited example after example, and study after study, from around the world showing that requiring school masking is not an efficacious anti-COVID strategy.  Students, especially younger students, have been safely free-facing in classrooms all over the planet since the fall of 2020.  We've effectively run a massive, worldwide experiment in real time for two years running.  Those real world results have spoken very clearly, as have emerging academic studies.  Here's one from March:


And another from April:

That was the research that focused on 10-12 year olds because schools in Finland were unmasked under the age of ten, and masked over the age of 12.  That middle range was mask optional, school to school, creating a natural experiment on effectiveness.  The result, as noted above, was no difference on transmission rates between masked and unmasked schools.  Here's another study, focused on 'mitigation' efforts at an Ivy League college:


Virtually all cases at Cornell were among vaccinated people because the Cornell community was required to be vaccinated.  None of the thousands of documented cases resulted in hospitalizations -- which could be because vaccines are effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from (not with) COVID.  It could also be because a university student body is overwhelmingly and disproportionately younger and healthier than the general population, and therefore already exceedingly unlikely to experience those outcomes.  Perhaps it was a combination of those factors.  "Credit" claiming has become a ridiculous endeavor among officials trying to justify their poor decisions.  Masks were required in all buildings on campus, all semester long.  Then Omicron hit, and just did its thing.  The masking and other steps achieved nothing.  And yet, Boston and Philadelphia have decided to slap face coverings back on six-year-olds.  This is an anti-science decision that will do more harm (some) than good (none).  I'll leave you with a reminder of the type of data officials in Washington, Boston and Philadelphia are actively ignoring:


UPDATE - And the list keeps growing (MA), and growing (CA), and growing (RI), and growing (PA). Perhaps officials in blue areas are determined to keep fueling the public school exodus.

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