Fact Check: Masks at school debate

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As kids head back to the classroom we want to make sure you know the facts when it comes to masking and keeping your kids safe.

The masks at school debate has been going on for months. Some parents claim masks are not effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. So why force kids to wear them? Others say they’re proven to reduce the transmission of airborne viruses.

So what’s the real deal? News10NBC’s Nikki Rudd asked Melissa Bronstein, the Senior Director of Infection Prevention at Rochester Regional Health.

"It can reduce the rate COVID spreads because if we mask the source they’re not able to transmit it to other people," said Bronstein.

She has been working in the field of infection prevention for 30 years. Bronstein points out masks have been used in operating rooms for decades, and says there is a lot of data about the value of masking.

"It is true, you need to use them properly and you need to change them out, discard them or wash them when they start to become compromised, but they are definitely effective," Bronstein explained.

However, there are plenty of people who don’t believe that. Take a look at this study done in Denmark in April and May of last year. It found, surgical masks did not significantly reduce COVID infection rates. But you’ll also see the authors themselves say the results are inconclusive.

Bronstein points to the many real-world studies that support mask wearing including one cited by the CDC where two hair stylists with COVID interacted with more than 100 clients. Both the stylists and the clients wore masks, and none of the clients who agreed to be interviewed developed COVID.

"Masks are valuable, and masks can work," said Bronstein. "People that are hearing information that suggests that they’re not should really listen carefully to why do they think it’s not working and does that fit in with what we’ve been doing in health care for the last several decades?"

The CDC continues to study the effectiveness of different types of masks and updates its recommendations as new scientific evidence becomes available.

Click here to read the latest science brief on masking from the CDC.


Check out other Fact Checks here. If you have an idea for Fact Check, email Nikki Rudd at nrudd@whec.com.