Q&A Of The Day – Do Mask Mandates Negatively Impact Education? Part 1
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio
Today’s entry: Hey Brian, school question for you. The Board of Ed cited negative educational impact with mask mandates when they issued the new policy. Are they just saying that or is there actual research showing a negative education impact from mask use? If there is I’d think that’d considerably strengthen the state’s position.
Bottom Line: The answer is yes; research exists on the impact of masks in the classroom. Before addressing it, here’s specifically what the Florida Board of Education stated as they adopted a rule mandating that parents can opt their children out of a school district’s mask mandate: Unnecessarily isolating, quarantining, or subjecting children to physical COVID-19 constraints in schools poses a threat to developmental upbringing and should not occur absent a heightened showing of actual illness or serious risk of illness to other students. Of course, Governor DeSantis has also cited numerous negatives associated with the “muzzling” of kids. So, where’s this coming from? There are no fewer than 13 related studies/reviews which have published on the National Institutes of Health’s (team Fauch) website.
Different studies have covered different impacts of masks in the classroom. Here are the findings of a study entitled: Masked education? The benefits and burdens of wearing face masks in schools during the current Corona pandemic. Face masks can prevent the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2, in particular as this spread can occur from people with no symptoms. However, covering the lower half of the face reduces the ability to communicate, interpret, and mimic the expressions of those with whom we interact. Positive emotions become less recognizable, and negative emotions are amplified. Emotional mimicry, contagion, and emotionality in general are reduced and (thereby) bonding between teachers and learners, group cohesion, and learning – of which emotions are a major driver. The benefits and burdens of face masks in schools should be seriously considered and made obvious and clear to teachers and students. That’s pretty straightforward. Masks emphasize negative emotions over positive ones and impair the ability to connect with teachers and other students. That’s a clear negative impact for students and teachers alike and is congruent with what Governor DeSantis and the Florida Board of Education have stated. That’s not the only impact, however.
In a study entitled Face Masks in Young Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic researchers found the following negative impacts:
- 81% of children were embarrassed to wear a mask at school
- 49% of children experienced headaches associated with wearing masks
- 45% experienced speaking difficulties
- 45% experienced mood changes
- 28% experienced impaired breathing/discomfort
That’s a huge swath of school children experiencing many issues which could clearly impact their ability to learn (and potentially overall health). Incidentally the impact isn’t limited to grade school students either. In the second part of today’s Q&A I’ll cite a study that shows how potentially detrimental masking can be within higher education as well and tie the whole conversation together.