Q&A Of The Day – Do Mask Mandates Negatively Impact Education? Part 2
Bottom Line: Already I’ve cited two studies published on the National Institute's of Health’s website illustrating potential education and health issues associated with children wearing masks in the classroom. Here’s a study illustrating the impact in another type of educational setting. In a study called: Behind the Mask: Emotion Recognition in Healthcare Students this was cited: As part of a larger study, 208 medical and nursing students were randomly assigned to a masked vs unmasked version of the standardized facial emotion recognition task DANVA2. A significantly higher number of errors existed in the masked vs unmasked condition. Differences for happy, sad, and angry faces, but not for fearful faces, existed between conditions. Misinterpretation of facial emotions can severely affect doctor-patient and inter-professional communication in healthcare. A significantly higher number of healthcare errors occurred with med school students learning with masks on. Well, that’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it? And that leads to the over-arching point.
Often the mask mandates in schools are pressed by the “follow the science crowd”. Except that any mask mandate in school doesn’t follow the science, or at a minimum selectively chooses which science to follow. While “science” suggests some masks can be effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19, as I’ve shared with you, science also says masks leads to many students feeling embarrassed, having headaches, issues speaking, mood changes, breathing complications, unable to connect with teachers/other students as effectively and leads to more errors. So yes, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Board of Education is on solid ground with their attesting to negative health and education implications for students forced to mask up all day. That you likely haven’t heard of the studies I’ve cited until now, despite these studies being readily available on the National Institute's of Health website is telling.
Clearly these facts don’t fit the narrative many choose to advance within the education establishment and their allies in news media. But they should be front and center in any related conversation and policy consideration. As always there remain two sides to stories and one side to facts. The fact is that any mask mandate in the classroom should be made with the judgement that the threat of the spread of COVID-19 is so significant that the widespread negative interpersonal and health issues associated with classroom mask use is outweighed. In complete context it’s completely understandable why Governor DeSantis felt parents deserve a choice. Just as you deserve the truth.