Wearing Masks Is All We Need For Our Schools

More than 1500 have signed a petition requesting Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to offer an option for virtual learning. The course I am scheduled to teach in a couple of weeks at Georgetown University is still tentatively on a remote platform. With FCPS parents, there are two reasons behind asking for online learning. Children younger than 12 years old are not vaccinated, and with full capacity, social distancing is not possible. Why I still have to teach online in a university stands on only one reason, lack of social distancing in a class of more than 100 students. There is in fact data that can help address how to keep students and instructors safe from the coronavirus. Data from more than a million students and more than a hundred thousand staff show that "With masking in place, full, in-person instruction – is appropriate for all grades and all schools".

Above copied from Change.org

Data that indicate the effectiveness of wearing masks in schools have been provided by the ABC Science Collaborative, a group of scientists and physicians coordinated by the Duke Clinical Research Institute at the Duke University School of Medicine. These are the major findings:

Of course, the above results are from March through June of 2021. The study therefore precedes the rise of the delta variant:

"Delta was first identified in the United States in March. It spread quickly. In early April, Delta represented just 0.1 percent of cases in the United States, according to the C.D.C. By early May, the variant accounted for 1.3 percent of cases, and by early June, that figure had jumped to 9.5 percent. The C.D.C. now estimates that the number has hit 82.2 percent." (New York Times)

Nevertheless, vaccines are still effective against the delta variant. In the United States, according to the data gathered by the Kaiser Family Foundation, less than 1% of fully vaccinated people get COVID-19 infection.

Above copied from Kaiser Family Foundation

In the past year, we should have learned two important things about schools. First, wearing masks and not social distancing correlates with less transmission of the coronavirus. Second, remote online learning is not good for our children. Now, we must take these lessons to heart.