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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland (LifeSiteNews) – An elementary school just outside the nation’s capital plans a return to forced masking of some children in the name of COVID-19 prevention despite widespread evidence that masks do not stop the virus’s spread and that children face little to no risk.

Fox News reported that parents at Rosemary Hills Elementary School were recently sent a letter notifying them that “3 or more individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in” one particular class “in the past 10 days. We are taking the following steps to keep our school environment as safe as possible for in-person teaching and learning.”

Those steps include requiring students and staff N95 in the affected classes or activities to wear N95 masks “for the next 10 days, except while eating or drinking,” with masks “becom[ing] optional again following the 10-day period,” according to the letter, which was signed by Principal Rebecca Irwin Kennedy. The school is also sending COVID tests home with children.

“Our practice of recommending or requiring masking during confirmed outbreaks is the same as last year, and is in the reopening guide, mentioned in the back to school letter, and on our COVID website,” Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Christopher Cram told Fox in response to a request for comment. “We followed this process last year and found it useful during COVID outbreak winter season in preventing local spread.”

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government recommended wearing face coverings in the presence of others, advice that many states and localities used to impose mask mandates on a wide range of public gatherings. But evidence has long since shown that masking was largely ineffective at limiting the spread of the virus.

Among that evidence is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) September 2020 admission that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, and a May 2020 study published by the peer-reviewed CDC 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.”

In May 2021, another study found that, though mandates were largely followed, 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. 

More than 170 studies have found that masks have been ineffective at stopping COVID while instead being harmful, especially to children, who evidence finds face little to no danger from COVID itself. By contrast, evidence suggests that ability to see faces is critical for early development.

“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 says. “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.”

N95 masks have long been touted as the most ideal protection, despite most mask mandates typically not distinguishing between them and simple cloth coverings. Writing for the Brownstone Institute, however, Megan Mansell explained that COVID virus particles are “far smaller than the apparatus is approved or designed to capture,” and even against a hypothetical perfect capture rate of 95%, “the 5% percent never captured is still a plentiful enough potential exposure to infectious matter to result in infection.” A recent study of the similar KFAD and KF94 masks in South Korea raised the possibility that N95s might contain more than the recommended safety limit of potentially harmful compounds.

In recent weeks, some schools, hospitals, and businesses have resumed mask mandates, citing rising cases from new COVID variants against which the government admits current vaccines may be ineffective. The news has prompted speculation as to whether a return to broader lockdowns is forthcoming. President Joe Biden has announced he is seeking funding from Congress to develop new COVID vaccines for these variants, prompting fears of new mandates and whether they will have similar problems as the shots developed under his predecessor.