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WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) — 221 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against a Republican measure this week that would have required public schools to allow parental opt-outs for mask mandates, even as Democrats across the country abandon forced masking as a political liability.

Rep. Ashley Hinson’s (R-IA) Unmask Our Kids Act (HR 6619) would “prohibit the Secretary of Education from providing Federal funds to a local educational agency unless in-person instruction is available to all students and parents may opt out of student mask mandates

“As a mom, I know why parents across the country are standing up and speaking out when they are being told they can’t decide what is right for their kids and family,” Hinson said Tuesday on the House floor. “And it is infuriating to watch the same people who push for kids to wear masks all day long flout the rules for a photo-op or for a night on the town. Meanwhile, kids are sitting at home instead of going to school and interacting with their friends in a normal setting.”

“House Democrats are playing politics and want you to believe they’re following the science. If they really trusted the science, they would have voted for Ashley Hinson’s Unmask Our Kids Act because the data against school-mask requirements are abundantly clear,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Breitbart News of the vote. “Instead, 221 House Democrats voted against it, allowing schools districts to continue to impose mandates on young kids. That’s not only unfair to children, it is harmful for many of them.”

Available evidence suggests that masks have played little, if any, role in reducing COVID-19’s spread across the United States, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) September 2020 acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”

Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased mask use, that usage did not yield the expected benefits: “mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.

“The potential educational harms of mandatory-masking policies are much more firmly established, at least at this point, than their possible benefits in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in schools,” University of California-San Francisco epidemiologist Professor Vinay Prasad wrote in September. “Early childhood is a crucial period when humans develop cultural, language, and social skills, including the ability to detect emotion on other people’s faces. Social interactions with friends, parents, and caregivers are integral to fostering children’s growth and well-being.”

National Democrats’ obstinance on the issue comes as several state-level Democrat leaders, including in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Oregon, and even California and New York, have announced the end of their own mask mandates. Numerous left-wing figures have claimed that evolving scientific knowledge has justified the change, but critics suspect the real deciding factor was internal polling, such as that conducted by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s team, indicating that forced masking is deeply unpopular.