This state of affairs has persisted for months now, and administrators haven’t seemed to connect the dots. Students are living their off-campus lives largely unmasked, and they aren’t, for the most part, getting COVID. (To repeat: They’re vaccinated, and the vaccines work.) There’s nothing special about classrooms that makes them more susceptible to virus transmission than, say, restaurants or grocery stores. So having the same masking standards as restaurants or grocery stores should yield the same result: an extremely low risk of contracting a serious COVID case. If anything, unmasked classrooms should be much safer than unmasked restaurants or grocery stores, since everyone in classrooms is required to be vaccinated.
What we have here is the mind of the bureaucrat at work: Administrators want to believe that the stringent COVID policies they designed for their schools, rather than the arrival of effective vaccines, deserve credit for achieving the intended result. So the policies persist long past the point when they should have been eased.
[CDC Director Rochelle] Walensky and the CDC have serially misrepresented the data on which they base their global outlier of a recommendation that kids aged 2 and older wear masks in indoor group settings. But what makes the director’s comments today particularly distressing for some parents is that it offers zero off ramp; no numerical set of targets to hit; not even a distant glimmer of light when it comes to the increasingly grim and questionably scientific practice of concealing children’s faces at a developmentally critical age.
“Please find a parameter to unmask children,” responded infectious disease specialist Monica Gandhi of UC San Francisco. Or as Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo wrote yesterday, “Masks in schools were meant to be a temporary measure. It is good policy and practice to establish off-ramps for interventions that aren’t meant to be permanent….We should be able to answer what conditions would enable an end.”
My 6-year-old, who has spent nearly one-quarter of her life wearing masks in group indoor settings, attends a school where all the adults are vaccinated, kids and adults alike get tested once a week, and (per state requirement, as directly influenced by the CDC) everyone over age 2 wears masks, even outdoors. We live in a moderately high vaccination zip code (68 percent of all residents with at least one shot, 64 percent fully vaxxed), in a city with a lower case rate than all but six states, whose positive rate among regularly tested, unvaccinated public school students since mid-September is a minuscule 0.23 percent. I would like to know what any of those numbers need to look like in order for my daughter to see her teachers’ mouths again.
“Pandemic Disagreements Fuel Exodus From Public Schools” – This happy news is reported by J.D. Tuccille.
On Tuesday, Professor Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College epidemiologist whose modelling was used as the basis for the UK’s lockdown policy, made an illuminating comment on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “Nobody likes having their freedoms curtailed by measures but it’s prudent to be cautious, in everyday interactions certainly,” he told presenter Sarah Smith, “and wearing masks certainly helps that: it reminds people we’re not completely out of the woods yet.”
It was a startling admission, if we needed one, that masks are as much about psychology as they are about preventing infection. They act as a social cue, to use the language of behavioural scientists, nudging us into vigilance.
Rather than being inundated, there are more empty beds in the NHS then there are patients with Covid. And even the latter figure contains patients who are in hospital for reasons other than Covid but either happen to have (or acquired) the virus. Back in January, one in three occupied NHS beds was taken up by a patient with Covid; now the figure is closer to one in twenty.