We put “academic” in our headline instead of “doctor” to make it clear that Ashley Ruba is a post-doctoral student studying developmental psychology. And she and The New Republic have good news: they’ve looked into what masks do to kids and found that there’s no evidence that masks harm children developmentally. That reminds us of a post we did on the American Academy of Pediatrics saying there were no studies showing that masks on children harmed language development — note they didn’t say masks don’t harm language development, they said there were no studies proving they did.

The subhead of the piece reads, “Face masks keep kids safe from Covid-19 and keep schools open. There’s no evidence they harm kids developmentally.” Melody Schreiber reports:

The drawbacks to wearing masks in school are minor and compensable: They muffle sound, they may irritate skin. But there are easy fixes: Make sure you have the child’s attention and it’s not too loud; speak a little more clearly and slowly; use your hands and body language, Paul suggested. (I would add my own, to avoid “maskne”: a little facial moisturizer goes a long way.)

The drawbacks to unmasking, it turns out, are much greater. In schools that have abolished mask mandates or never had them at all, some have had to go to virtual because of staff shortages. These closures hurt kids immediately and demonstrably in ways that masks don’t, the experts all told me. This is also the reasoning behind a Twitter thread from the American Academy of Pediatrics on January 28, urging schools to keep masking. According to the organization, 3.5 million children tested positive for Covid-19 in January alone.

How does this explain states that never had mask mandates and didn’t go to virtual learned but kept classrooms open? This is one of those pieces that began with the conclusion in mind — masking in schools is a good thing — and worked backward to prove it.

We’re not going to know the effects of masking kids for years.


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