Don’t Abandon Preschoolers on Removing Masks | National Review

Don’t Abandon Preschoolers on Removing Masks | National Review

Students listen to their teacher during their first day of transitional kindergarten at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, CA on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. ( Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

As the trend of removing mask mandates sweeps through even the parts of the country that have pursued the most draconian Covid policies, one group is being left behind: two- to four-year-olds. This is as cruel as it is inexplicable.

For all the headlines about New York City mayor Eric Adams removing the school mask mandate, reading the fine print reveals that preschoolers will be left out. This is an approach that has been consistent in many blue areas, where officials argue — contrary to new CDC guidance — that this age group must mask up because they are not yet eligible for vaccination.

The most puzzling aspect of insisting on masking toddlers and preschoolers is that this is the group least likely to benefit from masking and the one that has the most to lose.

Even those who believe that mask mandates work for the general population would be forced to acknowledge that toddlers are the least likely to be able to wear masks properly for eight hours a day. Also, according to CDC data, out of 914,259 Covid deaths in the U.S. for the entire pandemic, just 304 of them were in the zero-to-four age group — or about three-hundredths of 1 percent. And those numbers do not control for children who had other health issues and then happened to test positive once in the hospital.

On top of this, all of the downsides of masking that experts have warned about — hampering development of social-emotional learning, language, and speech — are more acute for preschool-aged children.

There is no science behind this decision, which even the CDC now acknowledges. As many of us are relieved to see mask mandates go for most people, we cannot take the pressure off until toddlers are liberated everywhere.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.