When can we expect masking to end for preschoolers?
I'm a liberal, pro-science, law-abiding person and I have no interest in allying myself with right-wing crazies. But I'm wondering what we as a community are thinking about masking toddlers, with little data to support the practice, significant harms, and no end in sight.
There are a number of reasons that masks are harmful to preschool-age children:
--they inhibit social and emotional growth;
--they inhibit language development;
--they irritate the skin;
--they are often unsanitary in toddler populations;
--they promote mouth breathing which impairs proper facial development.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against children under 5 wearing masks as a preventative measure. Accordingly, masks are not recommended for children under 5 in the UK and most countries in the EU (France, Italy, Spain, etc.).
In the US, CDC recommends masks are worn *indoors* for ages 2 and older at childcare facilities. Meanwhile it seems to be the norm around the Bay Area that preschools are requiring masks both indoors and outdoors for ages 2 and over -- this is total masking for toddlers upwards of 40 hours a week for full-time care. Several Bay Area counties including Alameda have criteria for lifting indoor mask requirements for adults (three weeks in CDC moderate tier of caseloads; vaccination thresholds); Marin and SF are already lifting requirements. But childcare settings are an exception to to this lifting, so as far as I can tell there's no reprieve in sight for preschoolers.
Is there some specific benchmark that we are waiting for in California, the US, or as a community before the masking requirement is reduced or lifted for toddlers? Because my patience, as a parent of a three-year old who wears a mask at preschool for 40 hours a week, is wearing thin. FDA vaccine approval for this population, unlike for 5-12 year olds, is very far off (January would be the earliest but that is highly speculative). Meanwhile, there's literally no data to support that masks are effective at reducing transmission in the age 2-4 population. The data shows that COVID is a very minimal risk for children -- a *unvaccinated child* has about as much risk of getting or spreading COVID as a vaccinated 40 year old, if not less (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/12/briefing/covid-age-risk-infection-vac...).
As a parent, I feel the strong need to advocate for preschool children's interests here as they are not able to advocate for themselves. Indeed, children do get used to wearing masks, but that is not a sufficient justification for a potentially harmful practice -- children can get used to almost anything, including several forms of abuse.
Do others here share my concern?