A pediatric doctor claims that universal masking policies in schools prevent students from feeling guilty about the possibility of bringing COVID-19 home to their parents and the virus killing them.
On Jan. 24, Dr. Russell Libby was a guest medical panelist at Fairfax County Public School’s (FCPS) virtual town hall meeting, which was aimed at alleviating parents’ concerns about the mask mandate. FCPS vowed to continue to require masks despite Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order repealing mask mandates in schools, according to updated guidance from the district.
FCPS is one of seven school districts taking legal action against the repeal of mask mandates.
Libby is a strong advocate for continued masking in public schools and stated that masking students does help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in public settings.
“With kids, they scream, they yell, they laugh, they talk, they sing, they do all the things that will generate the flow of potentially infected or virus-carrying particles in their breath. That will be there for others to catch,” Libby said.
“Wearing that mask is most prominently intended to help reduce the spread from someone who is asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, but carrying that virus that might then infect someone else, who would go home and infect their family, their grandparents, or anyone else without them even being aware of it,” he continued.
Libby stated that in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, “close to 190,000 kids lost a parent or a custodial grandparent” to the virus. He cited infection rates being four times what they were at the beginning of the pandemic. The COVID-19 Omicron infection is extremely transmissible, albeit less deadly than the initial Alpha variant, according to multiple infectious disease specialists.
The doctor went on to say that kids carry “a significant burden” when parents question the district’s public health approach to universal masking.
“And kids, when they are in the middle of these settings, they really carry a significant burden that we impose upon them by questioning and trying to undermine the real public health that all of us are here to advocate for,” Libby said.
He claimed that kids “carry that kind of guilt” home if they “think they’ve brought something home to their families and infected someone, killed someone.”
“The potential for harm is so much greater than the potential for good,” Libby concluded.
The doctor went on to suggest studies that find masks are ineffective in reducing the transmission of COVID are used to generate an anti-mask bias.
“Often, you will find studies that are magnified to significance by those that have an intention to use it to support their position,” Libby said.