according to new data from the University of Michigan.
School districts with no mask requirements averaged 73 coronavirus cases per 100,000 students as of late September, compared to 45 cases per 100,000 students in districts with mask mandates. That’s an infection rate that is 61% higher in school districts without mask requirements.
About 42% of school districts in Michigan have mask requirements. In all, nearly 505,000 students attend schools in districts without mask requirements, and more than 748,000 students are in schools with mask mandates.
Locally, about 250 Ohio school districts have mask mandates. A handful have added them in recent weeks, while about six others that had a mandate have since rescinded them in October. As of last week, about 52% of Ohio students were in a district with a mask mandate.
The new findings provide more evidence that masks help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Whether the evidence will temper criticism of mask mandates remains to be seen.
Unruly anti-mask parents have shown up in droves at school board meetings across the country, claiming face coverings don’t reduce the spread of the virus.
Leading health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control, have recommended universal masking indoors as COVID-19 transmission remains a serious threat.
Gov. Mike DeWine has encouraged school districts to require masks but stopped short of issuing a mandate, citing a GOP legislature that would use state law to nullify such a mandate.