Child Masking – Where is the Offramp?

Children wearing gas masks

by James C. Sherlock

I have two important questions for my friends who insist on mandates for masks for children in schools.

Is the child mask mandate permanent? If not, where is the offramp? 

I will cede for purposes of this inquiry that you are sincere in your concern for the vulnerability to COVID of teachers and children in schools and of the kids’ parents and grandparents when the little devils get home.

So, I am about to concede a lot more in an attempt to get your answers.

I will hope, and for this question concede, that you have considered that the CDC recommends:

When determining if children and people with certain disabilities should wear a mask, assess their ability to:

  • Wear a mask correctly
  • Avoid frequent touching of the mask and their face
  • Limit sucking, drooling, or having excess saliva on the mask
  • Remove the mask without assistance

I will concede that you think:

  • that such an assessment is the responsibility of school boards, not parents; and
  • that school boards can make those assessments for hundreds or thousands of children in one meeting. “Dean” Braband made that assessment for the 188,887 students in Fairfax County Public Schools. On Friday. I expect from Braband tomorrow an update to his new suspension policy that will include immediate ouster for the touching of the mask and face, sucking, drooling and saliva outrages.

I will therefore hope, and again concede, that you and Dean Braband have done a tradeoff analysis between the costs (of all sorts) and the value of masking for children and have come down on the side of a masking mandate. Regardless of the assessments of the parents.

So, here we are. I have conceded your every hope and fear. Dissent from 6-year- olds and their parents will not be tolerated. Immediate out-of-school suspensions for all of them. Feel better?

Back to the questions. Is the mandate permanent? If not, where do you see the offramp?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, in support of its stance on school masking:

Universal masking will also protect students and staff from other respiratory illnesses that could keep kids out of school.

I find that fairly ominous. I will concede that you don’t.

Perhaps then you will consider this quote this week from Dr. Anthony Fauci about learning to “live” with COVID.

“If we have those things in place – vaccine testing, masks, therapy – we could keep it at that low level,” he said.

The flu.

Then, I am sure you have read the CDC statement about the flu:

Flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu; thousands of children are hospitalized, and some children die from flu. Children commonly need medical care because of flu, especially children younger than 5 years old.

(Bolding by author)

Then there are CDC’s key facts about the flu. You know them well:

(A 2018) CDC study found that children are most likely to get sick from flu and that people 65 and older are least likely to get sick from influenza. Median incidence values (or attack rate) by age group were 9.3% for children 0-17 years, 8.8% for adults 18-64 years, and 3.9% for adults 65 years and older. This means that children younger than 18 are more than twice as likely to develop a symptomatic flu infection than adults 65 and older.

Period of Contagiousness
You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.

Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

(Bolding by author)

Yet the CDC’s recommendations for flu preventive measures do not mention the word “mask” or “school.” (As Herbert Morrison wrote in 1937 reporting his reaction to the Hindenburg fire, “Oh, the humanity!”)

Uncharted waters. So, we are in uncharted waters here relative to masking for children in that:

  • masks are not required for flu that “especially” affects children and their characteristically prolonged period of spread; but
  • are required for COVID, which does not target children.

I take back my initial concession. That pretty much cements the fact that the COVID mask mandate is not about children. It is about adults. It is about you.

You will concede (finally your turn) that the federal government — including CDC and Fauci’s principality — under President Biden is unlikely to exclude child masking from its school recommendations.

You will go ballistic if it does. Fierce marches and signs. Whatever the approved new term is for looting. Teacher strikes. Scathing Washington Post and New York Times editorials will bemoan any step back by the ascendant regulatory state.

So, I am asking you. You clearly consider it to be your call.

Is the child mask mandate permanent? If not, where is the offramp?

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38 responses to “Child Masking – Where is the Offramp?”

  1. vicnicholls Avatar

    Thanks Jim. I sent a letter to the CEA/Chesapeake School Board earlier that indicated 2 ways to stop this. #1 was calling the AG’s office (specific # and instructions) and #2 was both Article 8 of the Va Constitution and 8VAC20-23-720 and a basis for that license complaint. I listed several resources that do not back the assertions of death and destruction (medical/VDH), alludes to England, Denmark, Sweden and Balkan countries dropping COVID protocols. Lastly it was an indication that current policies upheld by the teachers’ union contribute to minority disenfranchment in education.

  2. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    Ze offramp is ven ve say so

    1. vicnicholls Avatar

      The taxpayer has had enough.

      1. James Kiser Avatar
        James Kiser

        Not nearly enough as school boards around the country and the federal overlords say we will let you know when enough is enough! The govt doesn’t care about you.

        1. vicnicholls Avatar

          Actually they’re starting too with enough of us after them.

  3. Excellent question, Jim. If we apply the logic of masking up for COVID-19, why not for influenza, too? Where indeed is the offramp?

    1. see the UK and Israel.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Dr. Death, Anthony Fauci, has already weighed in. Never.

    3. VaNavVet Avatar

      The offramp may well be, as it is with many things, in some type of compromise. Youngkin has made his point with his base so perhaps now he can show what governance through compromise looks like.

      1. The compromise is pretty straightforward: those who want to wear masks, can. Those who don’t want to wear masks, don’t have to.

        That’s it. That’s the compromise. That’s all there is to it.

        It’s the mask-enforcers who refuse to accept those terms and insist on masking everyone–including other people’s kids–forever and ever, with no end in sight. You’re the ones who are going to have to compromise.

        1. VaNavVet Avatar

          Just like drinking and driving. Those that want to do so and those that don’t want to just don’t. Try telling that to the cop! Several studies by Duke Univ. and the CDC have demonstrated the clear benefit of universal masking in school settings with regard to keeping people from getting infected.

          1. So, admit that you want the masks to be forever, and that you’re not interested in compromise. Stop lying and admit it. You want masks to be written into law, like drunk driving laws, so that it will be illegal not to wear them. Otherwise, you’re not making a valid argument comparing masks to drunk driving laws.

            Just admit it. That’s all I ask. Stop lying, and admit it.

            And are you talking about the study the CDC used to justify keeping kids masked in schools, the one that was hilariously wrong in its methodology and dubious in its conclusions?

            What is the “compromise” you have in mind? Because you sure seem to be advocating for writing mask mandates into actual laws that will be enforced by criminal penalties. That’s not a compromise, my friend.

          2. VaNavVet Avatar

            Never said that masking should be permanent nor did I mean to imply it. Drunk driving is not a perfect comparison but was used to make the point that there are some things that people just do not have a right to choose to do because of their impact on others. Smoking in public places is another example due to second hand smoke. There are rules in society that are not written into law but still should be obeyed. If you don’t like them then work to get them changed or face the consequences of disobeying them. A compromise includes other mitigation protocols like social distancing, testing, contact tracing, and quarantining. Also masks may only be required for a while longer and not when statistics indicate that the spread of the virus has subsided. BTW do you accuse all your friends of lying? You were making a valid point without the name calling which added nothing to your argument.

          3. I am working to change them, by calling out the people who continue to enforce them. There’s a “mask psychosis” going on that huge numbers of people have bought into for no valid reason. If we’re really that serious about wearing masks to protect others, we have no choice but to do it everywhere, all the time, for the rest of time, because COVID is never going away, and neither is any other airborne disease that we can transmit among each other (that we never cared about until a little less than two years ago).

            What names did I call you besides “friend”? I was trying to be cordial.

    4. VaNavVet Avatar

      A good question was posed but then Sherlock had to go and muddy it all up with politics! My 4 year old grandson wears a mask all day in school with no problems but then he is pretty tough.

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    You ask a fair question.

    First, I don’t support suspending kids for not wearing masks to school, if the school/school board has mandated they be worn.

    I do not think the child mask mandate will be, or should be, permanent. Where is the offramp? Lots of people far smarter than I am have been looking at this question and have yet to come up with an answer. Most talk in terms of when COVID ceases being a pandemic and become an endemic disease.

    The widespread availability of the next generation of COVID treatment drugs, such as Merck’s molnupiravir and one being developed by Pfizer could go a long way, if not all the way, to the offramp.

    As far as I am concerned, requiring all school children to be vaccinated against COVID, as they are required to have vaccinations against measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc. would be enough to get us on the offramp.

    1. How many kids who are vaccinated against measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc. get measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc.? Or spread measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc. to teachers and staff?

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        Exact figures regarding your question are not available. According to CDC data, the incidence of those diseases has decreased more than 90 percent since the advent of vaccines. For mumps, the decrease has been 99 percent. Even for chicken pox, for which vaccination is not required in 7 states, the incidence is down by about 92 percent.

        No vaccine is 100 percent effective. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is rare for anyone getting the vaccinations to contract any of the diseases. It is a two-stage vaccination and, after the second shot, 97 percent of people are protected.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Thanks, Dick.

      You and I fundamentally disagree about the government’s role vs. the parents role in these decisions.

      If masks protect, and you can mask your kid, why is it a concern of yours or the government’s that my kid is not masked? If vaccines protect, why should vaccinated kids wear masks? Is proper social distancing three feet or six feet?

      Governments attempt chance-constrained optimization for their entire populations. Chance constrained optimization is pretty higher order mathematics. If they change the plug-in values, they get a different answers.

      Calculating the protections of vaccines, masks, distancing and treatments vs. the rapidly changing, multi-axis, multivariable threats posed by in this case a virus and coming up with one mandated solution for populations of millions is ritual guesswork.

      Governments mandating healthcare solutions will nearly always choose the highest values of threat and the lowest values of protections to derive the most risk averse solution.

      Americans have a federal Constitution to protect us from the federal overreach. State Constitutions vary, but most have some version of a bill of rights.

      Fauci’s stated opinion quoted in my article above is that there is no offramp. It is the ultimate CYA position. Good thing that this is not a federal question.

      But I have put all of those things aside in posing the questions. I grant you your opinion on those issues and asked for your opinion on an offramp.

      I suggest to you that the solution you offer, all children being vaccinated, will not satisfy the fans of mandates. It clearly will not satisfy Fauci. He has said as much.

      Unfortunately, I suspect that Fauci’s nonsense – masks for children are a “low level” (astonishing term) response to COVID – will remain the opinion and mandate of many blue states for a long time. The left, having taken new ground for the regulatory state, will never back off voluntarily.

      The mask mandate absolutely breaks my heart for my grandkids. And yours.

      1. VaNavVet Avatar

        A lot of parents should not even be allowed to have pets. That is why child protective services exists. Is there not a role for government?

    3. So, essentially, there is no offramp. Why not just say so? Stop being a coward and admit that the masks will never come off (or at the very least, it won’t be for a very, very long time). Stop calling this “temporary” and stop dodging the question.

      Who cares about Pfizer’s new pill? You know it won’t be as effective as Pfizer says it is. Didn’t we say basically the same thing about Pfizer’s vaccine about this time a year ago? Look how well that turned out. We could have spent the last two years repurposing old drugs for treatments, yet we have refused to do so. Teenagers have been eligible for vaccination since the end of last school year, and elementary school kids have been eligible since fall. In neither instance did we even entertain the notion that opening up vaccination to those age groups might lead to the end of keeping them in masks. As vaccination rates have gone up we have actually regressed on the masks and continue to insist on more and more masking, so don’t spread this nonsense that requiring vaccinations or increasing vaccination rates will allow us to take off the masks, because the public health officials have already severed the connection between the two. We steadfastly refuse to allow vaccinated people to go without masks and resume daily living, meaning we’ve purposefully and willfully taken a major incentive for getting vaccinated in the first place off the table completely, and won’t even consider putting it back. So no, increasing vaccination coverage will not end the mask mandates. It will do just the opposite, as we have already seen happen in real-time in the last year.

      In short, nothing you’ve said is going to happen, ever, with the current people in charge. In other words, masks are forever.

      Stop lying and admit it.

  5. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    So when could the 1941 kids in your picture finally put away the gas masks for good?

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      1941 and a half. Someone finally measure the width of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and determined that the Germans and the Japanese did not have airplanes that could fly that far – even one way. The Battle of Midway settled the issue of Japan’s aircraft carriers.

      1. Packer Fan Avatar
        Packer Fan

        Other than what the bottom of the bridge looks like, trolls don’t really know a lot. Certainly not much about history.

      2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        That picture was taken in Kent. Why would British authorities care how far Germany and Japan are from the US…🤷‍♂️. Btw, according to the Getty Museum is was 1937. America wasn’t even in the war yet.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          Excellent. I apologize profusely. I have updated the picture by removing the date 1941.

          Much better.

          You will note that the picture was never referred to in the article. Just by you in your comment. It was just an illustration for effect.

          By the way, where is the offramp?

          1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Well, again, you might find the answer in my rhetorical question… when did they stop using gas masks in Britain?

            Aside: I was never aware of Barnado’s Homes (where the kids in gas masks pictures were taken). There are some pretty disturbing stories out there about them. Kidnapping, child trafficking, etc. I am going to have to dig a little deeper into that particular piece of history.

          2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            I assume when the war was over. My question asks when is this particular war over relative to school masking. Fauci’s answer is never. Yours?

          3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            I’d say when the war (in this case pandemic) is over …. maybe at least when we step back from nearly 2000 American deaths per day rate a bit…

          4. And the “war” against COVID will never be over (just like the “war” against the flu or any other airborne disease has never been over), meaning the masks will never be gone.

            Just admit it. Stop lying to yourself (and everyone else), and admit it.

          5. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Personally, I hope masks never leave our society. They are hygienic. Mask mandates will dissipate as the death rate dissipates. That is not yet happening.

          6. Good, finally someone’s being honest about making masks permanent. Maybe now we can start getting somewhere.

            Why is there a connection between mask mandates and death rates? Shouldn’t the connection be between masks and case counts or hospitalizations? Wearing a mask isn’t going to prevent you from dying from COVID. The idea is supposed to be that it will prevent you from spreading it (although obviously they’re not very effective at that, based on sheer real-life lived experience). There’s never been any connection between wearing masks and avoiding death.

          7. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            “Making masks permanent” implies mandates. Mask mandates will not be permanent. I sincerely hope that mask USAGE does stick around (especially on airplanes – I know I will be using them from now on).

            I am using death rates as an indicator of overall Covid transmission rates in the community. Hospitalization rates work. Case counts are a poor indicator because they vary dramatically based on testing rates. As Trump noted – you test less you will have fewer cases (and vice versa).

          8. Making masks permanent legally requires laws, not mandates.

          9. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            You attempt to changed the subject. Mask mandates will not be permanent (nor should they be). We are now pushing 4000 dead per day in the US – masks mandates need to stay put for now.

          10. We’re hitting those numbers despite the mask mandates being in place. The mask mandates have done nothing and will continue to do nothing. There is no proven correlation between mask mandates and case counts, hospitalizations, or deaths. None whatsoever. Whatever “studies” you think you’ve heard trotted out by the CDC to justify their non-justifiable endless masking of kids have all been seriously flawed in their methodology and untrustworthy in their conclusions.

            And this is backed up by real-world lived experience–Illinois (where I live) has had a universal indoor mask mandate in place for most of the last 20 months, the only brief exception being last June and July. If masks did anything, anything at all, Illinois would have had a significantly better outcome, especially during the last two months, than neighboring states such Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc. But it doesn’t. And why is that? It’s because these masks don’t actually do anything. It’s all a placebo effect, all in your mind. You want to believe you’re protecting yourself from COVID by putting on the mask, but you’re not. And because it’s so important to you to believe this, you’re not willing to question your faith and you’re not willing to give up your false god of masks. You resist any discussion about the subject and cast aspersion on the character or intelligence of those who don’t believe as you do. This has been happening since May 2020 and will keep happening until the mask-worshippers finally give up and change their minds. Unfortunately, I don’t see any indication that that’s going to happen anytime soon.

            Masks are permanent because, to protect our ideologies, we can’t afford for them not to be. We have to be right on these masks. We can’t allow “the bad guys” to be proven to have been right about them all along. So we’re going to keep them going as long as we possibly can to prevent “the bad guys” from being able to say that they were right and we were wrong.

            But we are wrong on masks. And one day, sooner or later, whether we like it or not, history will judge us as such. As much as we want to believe we’re on “the right side of history” on everything, we are not on the right side of history on masks, especially masking kids in school. And the longer we hold out on admitting that, the worse the consequences will be.

            Tell me something. Don’t you find it interesting that all this talk of, “It’s temporary. It’s not permanent. It’ll be over someday. If everyone would just wear their masks correctly all the time, we’d be able to stop doing this,” sounds suspiciously like the sort of things abusers say? “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. It won’t happen again. I wish you wouldn’t make me hurt you.”

            There’s a very unsettling overlap between the way the mask-enforcers talk and the way abusers talk. It gets even more unsettling when we consider the thing being talked about is the right to force children to cover their faces indefinitely, rendering them unrecognizable and unable to communicate properly. The mask-enforcers are very creepy people.

          11. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            “There is no proven correlation between mask mandates and case counts, hospitalizations, or deaths. None whatsoever.”

            “At least ten studies have confirmed the benefit of universal masking in community level analyses: in a unified hospital system, a German city, two U.S. states, a panel of 15 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., as well as both Canada and the U.S. nationally. Each analysis demonstrated that, following directives from organizational and political leadership for universal masking, new infections fell significantly. Two of these studies and an additional analysis of data from 200 countries that included the U.S. also demonstrated reductions in mortality.”


            “Masks are permanent…”

            As I said, I sincerely hope so. Mask mandates are not nor should they be.

          12. Oooh, the CDC’s beloved “studies,” huh? Let’s see about that…




            (CHECK out the comments section in this one; it is AMAZING how so many people are so determined to cling to the masks. It is 100% political and is now deeply embedded into their ideology and worldview)





            Since you probably won’t read all of those, here’s some choice paragraphs:

            “Many public-health experts maintain that masks worn correctly are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, there’s reason to doubt that kids can pull off mask-wearing correctly.” We reviewed a variety of studies—some conducted by the CDC itself, some cited by the CDC as evidence of masking effectiveness in a school setting, and others touted by media to the same end—to try to find evidence that would justify the CDC’s no-end-in-sight mask guidance for the very-low-risk pediatric population, particularly post-vaccination. We came up empty-handed.

            To our knowledge, the CDC has performed three studies to determine whether masking children in school reduces COVID-19 transmission. The first is a study of elementary schools in Georgia, conducted before vaccines became available, which found that masking teachers was associated with a statistically significant decrease in COVID-19 transmission, but masking students was not—a finding that the CDC’s masking guidelines do not account for.

            A second and more recent study of Arizona schools in Maricopa and Pima Counties concluded that schools without mask mandates were more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks than schools with mask mandates. Yet more than 90 percent of schools in the “no mask
            mandate” group were in Maricopa County, an area that has significantly lower vaccination rates than Pima County. This study had other serious shortcomings, including failure to quantify the size of outbreaks and failure to report testing protocols for the students.

            The third CDC study found that U.S. counties without mask mandates saw larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 cases after schools opened, but again did not control for important differences in vaccination rates. The CDC has cited several other studies conducted in the previous school year to support its claim that masks are a key school-safety measure. However, none of these studies, including ones conducted in North Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin, and Missouri,
            isolated the impact of masks specifically, because all students were required to mask and no comparisons were made with schools that did not require masks.

            Therefore, the overall takeaway from these studies—that schools with mask mandates have lower COVID-19 transmission rates than schools without mask mandates—is not justified by the data that have been gathered. In two of these studies, this conclusion is undercut by the fact that background vaccination rates, both of staff and of the surrounding community, were not controlled for or taken into consideration. At the time these studies were conducted, when breakthrough infections were much less common, this was a hugely important confounding variable undermining the CDC’s conclusions that masks in schools provide a concrete benefit in controlling COVID-19 spread: Communities with higher vaccination rates had less COVID-19 transmission everywhere, including in schools, and those same communities were more likely to have mask mandates.

            This isn’t to say that these studies conclusively demonstrate that masks
            have no benefit in schools, but that any effect they have, if they have one, is tangled up in these other variables. To demonstrate any independent effect of masks on COVID-19 transmission would have required comparing communities with similar vaccination rates or statistically controlling for differences in vaccination rates, including by specific groups such as teachers and students. Without making these adjustments, it is impossible to attribute differences in case rates, let alone differences in in-school transmission, to mask wearing in school.

            At least pre-Omicron, adjusting for vaccination rates in the surrounding community was vitally important when looking at case rates. Comparisons of counties in California that did and did not have mask mandates showed that vaccination rates were highly predictive of hospitalization rates, but mask mandates were not. Neighboring Los Angeles and Orange Counties, which had similar vaccination rates but differing masking requirements, had similar case and hospitalization rates. Likewise, our analyses of data from Maryland show a tight correlation between hospitalizations and immunity rates by county, despite some counties requiring masks in all indoor facilities, some requiring masks only in county buildings, and some not requiring masks at all.”

            As I said, there is no proven connection. Whatever “proof” we think we have is simply what we want to see, not what’s actually there.

            And why wouldn’t mask mandates be permanent? The people who want them are never going to be ready to give them up. People seem to be under the impression that ending the mask mandates is equivalent to calling for a ban on all masks. As long as we labor under that impression, there will always be a loud group of people–mostly white, upper-class, suburban liberals–who will want the mask mandates to continue. It’s part of their ideological identity at this point.

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