Letter: Masking in schools protects our children
Nationally, as of last week, children represented more than 14% of all cases of COVID-19-19, and cases among children have been increasing steadily in recent weeks according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The population — including our children — of Eagle County are not in a bubble. Out-of-state residents and residents of other Colorado counties regularly visit Eagle County.
“COVID-19 cases will come into school property via children and adults,” says Dr. Danny Benjamin, Professor of Pediatrics and Duke University.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children age 2 and up and all school staff wear masks indoors.
The CDC now recommends that people wear masks indoors if they are in areas with “substantial” or “high” levels of spread, regardless if they are vaccinated. As of August 20, Eagle County is noted as an area with a high transmission with a daily average of 33 cases and 141% increase in the past two weeks and a positivity rate of 10% or higher — currently at 15%).
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In a study of 1 million K-12 students in North Carolina during last fall, winter and spring, masks were shown to be the most effective and efficient method of preventing COVID-19 transmission in schools. The study examined within-school transmission — how many children infected children and how many children infected adults.
The results of the study, led by Dr. Danny Benjamin, indicated that despite having extremely widespread COVID-19 in the communities of North Carolina, if universal masking is in place, the chance of one child infecting another is less than 1%. In a study of children in Israel, where the vaccination rate of the total population is 59.8%, in unmasked settings there is a 13-16% transmission rate.
According to Dr. Benjamin, the only protective measure against COVID-19 transmission in schools that is available to parents is universal masking. Advising concerned parents to “just mask your child” is ineffective in preventing COVID-19 transmission. “Respiratory physiology just doesn’t work that way: That’s not protective; you’re not protecting that one child. Having a voluntary masking policy is like having a no-peeing section in a pool or a no-smoking section in an airplane. That’s absurd.”
A Vail Daily report from Aug. 9 — “Eagle County Schools sticking with no masks to start school year“ — quoted the district, working with Eagle County Department of Public Health and Environment, as citing the county’s current vaccination rate of 85% among eligible residents. This is a misleading statement. The CDC currently cites 66.1% of Eagle County’s total population as fully vaccinated. It also cites 84.8% of Eagle County adults 65 and older as fully vaccinated.