January 27, 2023

A California school administrator shrugged when asked about students dissatisfied with the reintroduction of a school mask mandate.

“They really should be wearing the mask,” Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, president of the San Diego School, as she shrugs with a grin and shrug during an interview with KUSI News.

The school principal said if they don’t like it, they can stay at home.

dr. Whitehurst-Payne made her disdain when asked about students who had started summer school when there was no mask mandate, but now she was ordered to wear a face covering at all times while indoors.

dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, president of the San Diego School, said if students don’t like masks, they can stay at home and learn through Zoom

San Diego County summer school students now have to wear masks indoors, despite low infection rate in two months

“They need to let them know they’re not comfortable and just won’t return at that point,” she said.

On Monday, the San Diego Unified School system reinstated the indoor face covering requirement for all summer school students, despite a drop in cases.

The seven-day average for infections is 39.5, the lowest since early June, according to the San Diego County Communicable Disease Registry.

The number of cases has risen and decreased in the past month and a half as the highly transmissible but less deadly BA.5 variant has spread across the country.

Whitehurst-Payne said the school board had set an infection level for when indoor mask rules would return and the community had reached that level.

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As a reminder, the district has established criteria approved by our board of directors on May 24, 2022, which, if met, would require a return to mandatory indoor masking. This week, one of those criteria was met, with San Diego County entering the “high” COVID-19 community level,” according to an announcement on the San Diego Unified School District webpage.

Whitehurst-Payne said the board of education would be on vacation soon and wanted to make the policy change before they left.

“The board will be on vacation and gone, but we wanted to put in place a policy that would take the data into account,” she said.

dr. However, Kelly Victory, an emergency medicine and disaster specialist, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, said masks have never been an effective way to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“I have more than 200 published scientific studies disproving the effectiveness of masks in stopping respiratory viruses,” she told KUSI News. “Let’s talk about science. Let’s not talk about what is politically correct and what needs a different story – scaremongering.’

She said if masks could stop Covid-19, “we wouldn’t be in the trouble we’re in because the places around the world that were pedantic about their mask mandates wouldn’t continue to see significant case numbers.”

Studies have shown that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus and that wearing masks can inhibit learning, especially in younger children.

“They always fail to recognize or address the increasing number of negative effects of wearing a mask,” Victory said. “We know there are many, independent of social impact, of the impact that face masks have had on children’s ability to speak well, recognize facial expressions, social interaction and so on.”

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She said educators are not weighing the negative effects against the negligible effectiveness of the masks in their decision to reintroduce the policy.

Two tests have also been conducted to determine children’s development quotients, illustrating a marked decline since the start of the pandemic in how well children mature in their language and other skills compared to a sample of young people their own age.

The report found that there has been a 23 percent drop in scores measuring children’s intelligence quotients since the start of the pandemic. The results showed that the average early learning outcome fell by as much as 23 percent, from a high of just under 100 in 2019 to 77 in 2021

The study’s findings come as parents around the world grapple with the idea that wearing masks can disrupt their young children’s natural learning experiences and communication skills.

“It’s hard to imagine why they would keep proposing these,” Victory said.

Social distancing measures, including face masks, are suspected of reducing early childhood development by up to 23 percent during the COVID pandemic, according to a Brown University study based on data collected from 1,600 children.

York University researchers found that face masks make it 20 percent more difficult for children to recognize faces, compared to just 15 percent in adults.