The latest data on whether masks in schools matter

A new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of more than 500 counties that have a policy on the use of masks in public schools shows that counties without school mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates compared to counties that had school mask requirements.

The study, conducted July 1 through Sept. 1, found that counties with mask requirements in schools experienced significantly lower new cases among school children than those without mask mandates.

A second CDC study comparing schools in Arizona without mask requirements with schools that started the school year with requirements shows that schools without requirements were more than three times as likely to have outbreaks than those that required students and staff members to wear masks. Of the 191 Arizona schools that reported COVID-19 outbreaks early in the school year, only 8.4% of the outbreaks were in schools that had mask requirements early on, while 32.5% of the outbreaks were in schools that implemented mask requirements later. Almost 60% of the school outbreaks were in schools without mask requirements.

Earlier this month, a federal judge denied a request from a group of parents represented by Princeton lawyer Bruce Afran to block New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s mask mandate for schools. U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty denied a request from parents who are part of the group Free NJ Kids for a temporary restraining order against the state’s mask mandate. The lawsuit will still move forward.