In a study published November 9, 2022 in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers studied the effect of lifting mask mandates in schools in Boston to gain insights into that cohort population’s response to COVID. The study found that lifting mask mandates in school during COVID resulted in an increase in COVID cases amongst students and staff members of 44.9 cases out of every 1000 individuals with a higher incidence with vulnerable individuals by economic status and disability, and racial minorities. This resulted in lost school time, as well as work time for caregivers and school staff members. The researchers did not attempt to trace those who infected individuals went on to infect during the study period. The researchers concluded that universal masking is an important strategy in schools for reducing COVID incidence and loss of in-person school days; and, particularly during community outbreaks. They also pointed out that universal masking may be especially useful for mitigating effects of structural racism in schools and resulting educational inequities.

Cowger, et al. Lifting Univeral Masking in Schools – COVID-19 Incidence among Students and Staff. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2211029


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