CDC: Studies show masks lessen school outbreaks

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FILE – In this March 2, 2021, file photo, socially distanced and with protective partitions students work on an art project during class at the Sinaloa Middle School in Novato, Calif. Public schools have struggled for years with teacher shortages, particularly in math, science, special education and languages. But the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The stresses of teaching in the COVID-era caused a spike in teacher retirements and resignations. Now that California schools have welcomed students back to in-person learning, they face a new challenge: A shortage of teachers and all other staff, the likes of which some districts say they’ve never seen. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

(AP) — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention data from the new K-12 school year bolster the agency’s recommendation for masks in schools and in-person classes.

One study in two Arizona counties found coronavirus outbreaks were almost four times more common at public schools without mask mandates on the first day than at those that re-opened with a masking requirement.

Another study found case rates in children and teens increased more in U.S. counties where public schools had no mask mandates than in those where schools had that requirement. These studies lacked data on other measures that could have influenced the results.

A third study counted 1,801 coronavirus-related school closures through mid-September, most of them in the South, where many schools opened earlier than those in other regions.

Still, 96% of U.S. public schools have remained open with in-person classes, the researchers say, while acknowledging that data from some districts may be missing.

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