Masking in schools slows rate of COVID-19 infection, Duke study finds

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Masking in school helps lower the rate of COVID-19 infection among students and staffers, according to the new data analysis released by Duke researchers part of the ABC Science Collaborative.

Whether to impose, keep, or drop mask mandates in the midst of the pandemic is the agenda item surfacing once a month for school boards across North Carolina.

Parents opposed to masking their children in school have shown up to fight the face-covering requirement at Wake County school board meetings while other parents like Lameaka Moses have been pulling to keep the mandate in place.

"It's a struggle, it's definitely a struggle," said Moses, a single mother of three WCPSS students.

All of her daughters were born with weakened immune systems and are still learning virtually. Moses said she feels she has no choice but to keep them home for their own protection as COVID case numbers remain high.

A new study released by Duke researchers with the ABC Science Collaborative shows where viral spread is slowing in schools.

Analyzing data from 20 school districts across North Carolina that held summer or year-round school between June and August as the Delta variant was surging, researchers found schools without a mask mandate were 3.5 times more likely to have school-associated COVID-19 outbreaks than those that required masking.

"For something that works, why would you want to take it away?" said Moses.

The study also focused on the importance of students and staffers staying vigilant throughout the times of the day when masking is not possible.

"Looking forward to the fall and winter, lunch and extracurricular activities will be areas that require additional attention to limit the transmission of COVID-19 within schools," said Danny Benjamin, MD, PhD, MPH, co-chair of the ABC Science Collaborative. "As pediatricians and public health experts, we encourage schools to put mitigation strategies in place, such as vaccination, masking, and eating outside, to protect students and staff."
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.