I’ve watched hundreds of school board meetings across the country where child after child tearfully explained to their school board how it was hard for them to breathe and concentrate in school because of the face masks. Even more disturbing, the parents and students regularly expressed how they were going on two years of lost learning because they couldn’t understand the teachers through the face masks which made it impossible for them to learn.   

“Wearing the mask all day makes me really tired and gives me really bad headaches… My masks stick to my face when it’s really hot and it makes it hard to breathe… I have a hard time focusing with my mask on,” 10-year-old Florida student John Provenzano told his school board in May 2021. 

Just last week, in Canada, students protested the mask policies chanting “let us breathe!” They held signs: “We are suffering.”

We know that children are at low risk for the virus and many are vaccine eligible. We know that teachers are booster eligible and can wear N95 masks. These are things that we know and yet compliance is more important than adapting to reality.

While our CDC calls for universal masking of all students, other countries have followed the World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to not mask children under five years old and generally advises against masking up to 11 years of age because of the “potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development.” The WHO also acknowledges that children are low-risk for COVID. While several countries are lifting all of their COVID restrictions, many U.S. schools seem to be doubling down despite the consequences.

Infectious-disease scientist Dr. Marjery Smelkinson co-wrote in The Atlantic, “no real-world data indicate that these masks decrease transmission in school settings—data that matter greatly, as these masks require a very tight fit to function effectively, and that may not be possible for many kids.”

“To justify mask requirements in school at this point, health officials should be able to muster solid evidence from randomized trials of masking in children.”

Dr. Smelkinson, a Montgomery County, Maryland mom, points out that “hospitalizations have… remained extremely low among children.”

As early as September 2020, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons were publishing research about mask effectiveness against COVID and concluded that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be “only N95 masks” and N95s were “better than surgical or 12 layer cotton.”

It wasn’t until two weeks ago in early 2022 that the slow-moving and bureaucratic CDC finally acknowledged the ineffectiveness of cloth masks.  

CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said what most parents know to be true: “Don’t wear a cloth mask. Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. There’s no place for them in light of Omicron.”

Now, many parents worry N95s or KN95s will become the norm for kids in schools. If you think headaches and trouble concentrating in kids are bad now, it will only get worse if the masking mandate obsession continues.

“Stanford engineers estimated that N95 masks cause a 5% to 20% reduction in oxygen intake. This can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. This can be life-threatening for someone with lung disease or with respiratory distress,” wrote the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.  

Now, therapists are finding a “364% patient increase in patient referrals” of children having speech delays because of the use of face masks. 

I heard a grandmother explain this week that she took her grandchild to speech therapy and the speech therapists all wore masks. The child was not progressing in their speaking abilities because they couldn’t even see the mouths of the therapists. It was hard for the child to hear the therapist through the mask.  When she questioned why they didn’t take the masks off, they merely said they were following safety protocols and had to do it this way. What’s the point of speech therapy if the child cannot even understand the basic mechanics of speech at that moment: seeing how a mouth makes sounds in unison with facial expressions?

If we were purposely trying to damage children, I’m not sure what we would do any differently

We can’t continue to keep setting kids back in their development and education.  If some people choose to live in fear that is their choice but forcing a low risk population to comply with that fear has consequences. Let’s take the masks off and let kids breathe again.