Study: Wearing face masks in classrooms makes “no significant difference” in preventing COVID-19 infections By Zoey Sky for Prevention
At the height of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many countries enforced preventive measures like social distancing and the use of facemasks, including in classrooms.
But according to a study conducted in Spain, the use of face masks in classrooms made “no significant difference” in COVID-19 infection rates.
For the study, a team of researchers from different universities and hospitals analyzed COVID-19 transmission rates, age and the mandated use of face masks in classrooms across the region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain.
The study was published in peer-reviewed journal Archives of Disease in Childhood. The research team compiled data from 1,907 schools with a total of 599,314 pupils during the first term of the 2021 academic year.
While COVID-19 variants like omicron occurred outside of the timeframe of the study, the researchers believe that it is “unlikely that the effectiveness of the mask mandate measure will increase with a more transmissible variant.”
For the study, the researchers examined routinely collected health data to compare the incidence of COVID-19, secondary attack rates and the effective reproductive number among school children. The researchers compared data from children without mandatory face masks and those with face masks during the first term of the school year 2021-2022, to assess the effect of face mask mandates on COVID-19 transmission within schools.
The researchers focused on comparing children in the last year of preschool (P5) and the first year of primary education. The younger group had no face mask mandate but the older group did. (Related: Yale professor scoffs at the idea that mask mandates are based on science.)
According to the team, the aim of the study was not to measure the individual effectiveness of face masks but to evaluate the effectiveness of mask mandates in the real-world context of schools.
“The main findings of the study show no significant differences for children in the last grade of preschool (P5) and the first year of primary education in COVID-19 transmission indicators during the study period, despite their difference in FCM mandate and the strong age dependency of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools,” explained the researchers.
Data showed that the age trend observed for P5 and older children follows a different pattern when P3 and P4 are included in the analysis.
With no mandatory use of face masks, the youngest children have “significantly lower transmission indicators when compared with any other group.”
The researchers concluded that wearing face masks in schools showed no significant differences in terms of transmission. Conversely, the research team found that age is a major component explaining transmission in children.
The Spanish case study follows other studies demonstrating the failed efficacy of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In fact, face mask mandates even exacerbated the spread of the virus in certain demographics.
Cleaning and hygiene tips to protect your family against COVID-19
Instead of forcing kids to wear masks, teach them these effective cleaning and hygiene tips to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at home and in school.
These simple hygiene measures can help protect your family’s health and everyone else’s:
- Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Don’t cough or sneeze into your bare hands. Always cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- Maintain a distance of at least one meter (three feet) from other people who are coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly. Proper handwashing is the best method of preventing infections so wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Help children keep track of how long they should wash their hands by singing the full happy birthday song twice.
- Always wash your hands after you blow your nose, sneeze into a tissue, use the restroom, when you leave and go back home, or before preparing or eating food.
- If you don’t have access to running water and soap, use a hand sanitizer to ensure that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. When using hand sanitizer, ensure coverage on all parts of the hands and rub your hands together for 20 to 30 seconds until your hands feel dry. If your hands are visibly dirty, try to wash them with soap and running water.
Cleaning tips for your home
Follow these tips to keep your home clean and germ-free:
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home regularly to lower the risk of infection.
- Follow cleaning product instructions for safe and effective use and use precautions when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation.
- Clean dirty surfaces with soap or detergent and water and water first. Next, use a disinfectant product containing alcohol that is at least 70 percent or bleach.
- If you don’t have disinfectant sprays and wipes, clean surfaces with soap and water. You can also use diluted household bleach solutions on some surfaces.
- To properly disinfect at home, don’t wipe cleaning solutions off as soon as you’ve applied them to a surface. Many disinfectant products need to stay wet on a surface for several minutes to be effective. Always read the directions to make sure you’re using the products as recommended and to avoid damaging sensitive items like smartphones and other electronic devices.
Regularly clean and disinfect these high-touch surfaces:
- Door handles
- Game controllers
- Kitchen and bathroom surfaces
- Light switches
- Mobile phones
- Remote controls
- Taps or faucets
- Your kids’ favorite toys