End mask Mandates in Quebec Schools
We wish to express our concern over the mandatory masking of school children in some parts of Quebec.
There is widespread disagreement (and politicization) surrounding the efficacy of masks in preventing transmission. Unfortunately little research has been done to investigate masks in a school context, but the following study is relevant - looking at the filtration rates of various masks worn by a mannequin sitting in a large room:
This chart demonstrates the performance of different masks and shows that surgical masks and cloth masks allow 88 and 92% of virus-sized aerosolized particles to disperse around the room. At various points around the room, the concentration of virus-sized particles being emitted by the mannequin were found to be around 88% of the concentration existing inside the mask. Note that this study uses a completely still, seated mannequin and a perfectly fitted mask that was never removed or played with. We can only conjecture what the measurement would be in an actual classroom with children moving about, wearing their masks as children do, removing them to eat and drink, etc. With this information now available, the mandatory mask policy in schools becomes completely untenable. It is clear that these masks do not prevent any transmission among children that are sharing indoor spaces for extended periods on a daily basis.
In addition to being ineffective, the policy is wasteful (2.7 million disposable masks per week in Quebec). There is also some research and abundant anecdotal accounts suggesting that masks cause harm such as restricted breathing, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and increased mouth breathing (which also negatively impacts health). Language learning and lip-reading are also impeded as is vision for children with glasses. Particularly concerning is the use of masks during physical exertion - The WHO guidelines have long stated that: ‘Children should not wear a mask when playing sports or doing physical activities, such as running, jumping or playing on the playground, so that it doesn’t compromise their breathing’.
Thus a policy intended to reduce community spread actually shows little evidence of any benefit and potentially has high costs borne by some of society’s most vulnerable. We believe that a reassessment of this policy is imperative, in light of the evidence cited herein, and suggest that Quebec learn from the experience of the many other jurisdictions which have chosen to spare their children this hardship and use a more tactical, evidence-based approach, with seemingly no negative consequences – the UK, Germany, and Denmark to name a few. In formulating its advice on mask use for children, the WHO cautions that the first principle guiding policies should be to ‘do no harm’, and that the overriding priority should be the well-being of the children themselves.
Thank you for your consideration.
Heidi Rood Contact the author of the petition
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