One of the most frustrating aspects of the 'war' on COVID waged by our overlords in the name of health and safety has been the forcible muzzling of children in schools, particularly when playing outside or participating in sports. This virus has never been significantly driven by spread between or from children, yet they are the ones seemingly being punished with overbearing restrictions that last from the time they step on the school bus early in the mornings until they step off in the afternoon.
When complaints arise on social media, invariably some virtue-signaling, do-gooder parents will chime in that their children are "used to it" and "never complain" about having to wear a piece of cloth over the holes through which they breathe for most of their days. Well, I suppose prisoners eventually get "used" to having to wear chains too, but that doesn't make it natural. However, while chaining prisoners is necessary from time to time for security and safety reasons, it was never necessary to mask children, especially younger ones, and the data seems to increasingly be bearing this out.
Consider this dataset on COVID spread in schools from Brown University Professor Emily Oster, hardly a member of Team Reality. Launched last fall, Oster's "COVID dashboard project" has attempted to make up for the lack of a "coordinated federal effort to track COVID cases in context."
"By 'in context' I mean with information on how many people were in in-person school and what mitigation factors allowed school to operate safely," Oster writes in a March 1 dashboard update.
The amount of data collected here, although not exhaustive, seems surprisingly voluminous and impressive:
When we launched the dashboard in early September, our first announcement included about 100,000 in-person students. All of the data in that wave came from schools and districts that opted-in to the study to provide their information. These data provided a first, early look at case rates in schools. The sample was selected, yes, but it provided a first look at case rates in schools.
The most recent wave of data, covering early February, includes about 12 million students, of whom 6 million were in-person (this is about 20% of all school enrollment in the US). At this stage of the process, we still collect data from districts and schools who opt-in. But we’re also pulling in comprehensive data at either the school or district level from a number of states (New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Florida). The result is data with less geographic balance but significantly more representativeness (and many more observations).
Interestingly, in March, Oster felt that the data showed that masks probably matter "a lot" because of the increase in staff (not student) rates of infection in non-masked schools.
However, as data has poured in, there has been a clear shift. Here's a screengrab of the as it stands now:
In areas of high community transmission, masked school students saw a case rate (defined here as daily cases per 100,000) 37 percent higher than non-masked school students, or 19 cases per 100,000 in 'no masks required' schools vs 26 in 'masks required' schools. Even worse, staff experienced a case rate 84 percent worse in masked schools, at 19 cases per 100,000 in "no masks required" schools vs 35 in 'masks required' schools. In areas of low or substantial community transmission, students experienced no difference in case rates while staff numbers in "masks required" schools were slightly worse.
Sure, this sample isn't exhaustive, and although it does contain data from all states, it relies heavily on just a few. Still, it stands to reason that any data collected on such an issue would show at least somewhat less transmission in masked vs unmasked schools, IF masks worked to slow the spread of COVID-19. They don't, obviously. Meanwhile, some blue state school districts are still forcing tennis players and track runners to wear face muzzles over their breathing holes outside, in the name of "science," or something.