A survey of Vancouver high school students showed a high percentage of respondents plan to continue wearing masks when classes resume on Monday (March 28).
The Griffons’ Nesthigh school student publication Eric Hamber, asked students in grades 8 through 12 in the Vancouver School District to email their views on ending the mandatory mask mandate.
The publication reported that 68 of 76 respondents plan to continue wearing masks when they return from spring break. Half of the respondents attended Eric Hamber.
On March 10, BC provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that masks will become optional for students in grades K-12 after spring break.
The student publication reported that 51 of 76 respondents – 67% – think the mandatory mask mandate should be reinstated.
According to The Griffons’ Nestdozens of students have said they want to protect others by wearing masks, especially those at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
Mandatory masking reduces spread in US schools
Meanwhile, a large US study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that mandatory mask policies reduced school transmission of COVID-19 cases by 72% compared to mask-optional policies.
Duke University researchers Kanecia Zimmerman and Danny Benjamin, both physicians, conducted the study, which looked at 61 school districts in nine states. The combined student population exceeded 1.1 million.
The study took place in the second half of 2021 during a wave of Delta variant cases. In the research sample, 46 districts had mandatory masking, six had optional masking policies, and nine had partial masking (where policies changed or only applied to certain grade levels).
In the US study, those who had a mandatory mask had 7.3 cases of school infections for every 100 community-acquired infections; optional masking resulted in 26.4 school infections per 100 community-acquired infections.
Since the publication of this research, neither the Vancouver School Board nor the BC School Trustees Association have called for the reinstatement of a provincial mask mandate in schools.
As employers, school boards can impose their own mask mandates, but to date none have done so in B.C.
Aerosols spread disease
The Global Health Network (WHN) recently released new guidelines in various areas, including masks and schools. (The WHN is a global network with scientific advice and advocacy teams that began as a grassroots task force in response to COVID-19.)
“School guidelines should explicitly acknowledge that Covid-19 is an AIRBORNE virus and communicate appropriate precautions to various stakeholders (including teachers, staff, parents and children),” the WHN states. “It spreads by inhaling AEROSOLS containing virus particles, which are exhaled by others.
“Keeping hands and high-touch surfaces clean is basic hygiene for all situations, but overuse of sanitizers can be harmful and does little to contain the spread of COVID-19 without precautions against airborne transmission are also in place.”
It is widely accepted that COVID-19 is not as dangerous for the young as it is for the elderly.
However, research from the UK has suggested that perhaps 10% of children and young people are susceptible to long COVID if infected.
“The most talked about hypothesis right now is that of inflammatory changes in small blood vessels which will then lead to organ dysfunction,” Dresden University of Technology pediatrician Jakob Armann told the BBC. “But there is no reliable data in children at the moment that proves this.”
Armann collected blood samples from high school children as part of his research on Long COVID.
The link between COVID-19 and blood vessel damage in children has been known since 2020.
That year, a study by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania noted that children had “elevated levels of a biomarker linked to blood vessel damage” even though they had few or no symptoms. of the disease.
“They also found that a high proportion of children infected with SARS-CoV-2 met the clinical and diagnostic criteria for thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA),” the hospital said. “MAT is a syndrome that involves clotting in small blood vessels and has been identified as a potential cause of severe outbreaks of COVID-19 in adults.”
The research has been published in Blood Advances. It had a sample of 50 pediatric patients with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, including 21 with minimal disease and 11 with severe COVID-19.
On March 25, a public school teacher and Brantford and District Labor Council Chairman Cory Judson went public with his fight against Long COVID.
Judson tweeted that he did it because every time he hears ‘COVID is only mild’ he considers what he lives with and ‘how there must be other people who experience the same thing”.
“I’m hoping for answers, but also for others to know they’re not alone,” Judson said.