September 20, 2021

COVID-19: Masks up...to the individual

The Iowa legislature’s decision to ban mask mandates for public schools has sparked protests outside the state capitol building in Des Moines.

This comes after the CDC reversed its mask guidelines towards fully-vaccinated people, now recommending these individuals wear masks in COVID-19 hotspots, as the Delta variant can infect and be transmitted by fully-vaccinated people.

Rep. Tom Moore (R-Griswold) explained the ban’s intention.

“The logic and the intent behind it is to give the parents choice over whether their kids should have to wear masks or not,” Moore said.

The controversy surrounds the view of parents who believe other children, who are also unvaccinated, may transmit the virus unless schools make mask-wearing mandatory for everyone.

“I believe in personal choice and if they’re worried about their children’s personal health, then their children can wear a mask, that can be their choice,” Moore said.

Moore also doubts the effectiveness of mask wearing.

“We’re seeing a number of tests coming out that say masks are only 20 — 30% effective anyway,” Moore said. “We’re also not seeing reports of any studies of what the effects of wearing masks are, especially on children.”

A study conducted in Beijing for BMJ Global Health found masks reduce transmission by 70%. A study conducted by the COVID-19 Systematic Urgent Review Group Effort (SURGE) found masks reduce transmission by 65%. Still, Moore is concerned about the effect the masks will have on children’s learning and development.

“My wife is a teacher, and I know for some students, wearing a mask is great, and there are many reasons for that, but we see this as the ultimate local control,” he said. “We’re giving the parents the choice, not necessarily a school administrator or school board that might be so inclined to cling themselves to a political ideology and just going with that.”

Moore also said that masks can be a distraction and a deterrent to children’s ability to learn.

“Especially when the teacher is teaching reading or teaching spelling and the children aren’t able to see her communicate, which is a valuable part of reading and spelling, to be able to see her speak the words, that’s just one example.”