Studies show masks lessen COVID-19 outbreaks at school: CDC

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In this March 2, 2021, file photo, socially distanced and with protective partitions students work on an art project during class at the Sinaloa Middle School in Novato, Calif. Public schools have struggled for years with teacher shortages, particularly in math, science, special education and languages. But the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The stresses of teaching in the COVID-era caused a spike in teacher retirements and resignations. Now that California schools have welcomed students back to in-person learning, they face a new challenge: A shortage of teachers and all other staff, the likes of which some districts say they've never seen. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

In this March 2, 2021, file photo, socially distanced and with protective partitions students work on an art project during class at the Sinaloa Middle School in Novato, Calif. Public schools have struggled for years with teacher shortages, particularly in math, science, special education and languages. But the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The stresses of teaching in the COVID-era caused a spike in teacher retirements and resignations. Now that California schools have welcomed students back to in-person learning, they face a new challenge: A shortage of teachers and all other staff, the likes of which some districts say they’ve never seen. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

 Arizona public schools without mask requirements were several times more likely to experience COVID-19 outbreaks than schools with mandates in place when the current school year began, researchers said Friday in an article published by a federal health agency.

The article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the impact of mask requirements at K-12 district schools in Maricopa and Pima counties, the state’s two most populous counties.

“The odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak were 3.5 times higher in schools with no mask requirement than in those with a mask requirement implemented at the time school started,” the article concluded.

The authors included researchers from the CDC, Arizona State University and public health departments of the two counties, which include metro Phoenix and Tucson and which together account for over 75% of the state’s population.

While the CDC supports masking requirements in schools, they have been hotly debated in Arizona.

A judge is currently considering a challenge to a new state law to bar mask mandates at public schools. It is scheduled to take effect Wednesday.

Arizona on Friday reported approximately 3,000 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as 10 more deaths.

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