The Salisbury School: The Real Price of Masking
Dear Headmaster, CFO, and Board of Trustees:
With the significant mental health implications of masking children and the tenuous case for masks providing a significant benefit, requiring children to wear masks all day in school does more harm than good. But do masks provide a genuine benefit to school children without causing harm?
We know that smart hygiene practices — washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, keeping children home when they’re ill — provide measurable benefits in reducing the spread of disease. But the research on using face masks is much less conclusive, even for their use in surgical settings.
For many parents and teachers who dealt with the physical, psychological, and emotional effects of mask mandates, that’s not enough evidence to subject to continue the mask mandate at the Salisbury School.
There is research to support the position on mask-mandating our children. Let’s look at the data on actual outcomes in this geographic area. What’s significant is that the distribution of higher and lower rates of cases doesn’t correlate with mask mandates. Schools with and without mask mandates are scattered evenly across the list.
A few factors could be at play here, but first impressions suggest that masking doesn’t appear to have affected children’s health outcomes. If it did, we would expect schools with strict mandates to have fewer cumulative cases as a rule.
Data collected by the COVID-19 School Response Dashboard, run by education groups including the School Superintendents Association, found that schools and school districts without mask mandates had lower case rates than schools with mandates.
Face masks were designed to be worn in hospitals to prevent saliva droplets from landing on patients and fellow staff. But for students, wearing a face mask for up to seven hours per day — 10 for students in extracurriculars — along with social distancing in school and constant reminders of danger presents some hygiene health risks — and significant mental health risks.
The Virginia Health Dept. COVID Dashboard shows an increase of sick days for students who are forced to wear a mask. This isn’t surprising, considering that the human body is designed to expel wastes through exhaling. Holding those wastes against the face creates a whole new set of problems as children inhale the bacteria and viruses their body is trying to get rid of, and those wastes sit in a moist environment on the skin.
Children also dealt with “Maskne” (mask acne) this year. This is no small matter when the Maskne is a staph infection that is hard to get rid of and may develop into a long-term problem with scarring.
The mental health issues that come with masking are safer and maybe irrevocable. We are seeing significant aggression, inability to read social ques, and anxiety levels so intense that it’s causing withdrawal from social interactions. Children rely on facial expressions to interpret what they hear. They respond to facial cues to interact and respond appropriately to teachers and peers. The harm done when that key part of human interaction is eliminated should not be underestimated. In some cases, it has caused anxiety levels leading to withdrawal from social interactions.
While we all want to “do something” to reduce suffering, we ought to act prudently and guard against unintended consequences. Masks for children appear to do more harm to their development than provide effective safeguards against spreading disease. Without more solid evidence that points to masks providing a measurable protection against respiratory illness among school-age children, requiring kids to wear masks risks teaching them to be afraid of their bodies, the environment, and their peers.
No other private school is implementing masks as a condition of receiving private education, even as their enrollment continues to grow. Salisbury School will see a mass exit…similar to what public school saw last year. The only difference is, government money won’t provide a bail out. For the sake of children’s immediate and long-term mental health, it’s time to change course. The decision to mask a student should be made by the parent with guidance from the treating physician.
Alliance of parents that pay tuition
December 14, 2021. Copyright DelmarvaPTC.org.