Pediatric COVID-19 cases in counties with and without school mask requirements — U.S. July 1–September 4, 2021
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Pediatric COVID-19 cases in counties with and without school mask requirements — U.S. July 1–September 4, 2021

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    Consistent and correct mask use is a critical strategy for preventing the Transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the Virus that causes COVID-19 (1). CDC recommends that schools require universal indoor mask use for students, staff members, and others in kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) school settings (2). As U.S. schools opened for the 2021–22 school year in the midst of increasing community spread of COVID-19, some states, counties, and school districts implemented mask requirements in schools. To assess the impact of masking in schools on COVID-19 incidence among K–12 students across the U.S. CDC assessed differences between county-level pediatric COVID-19 case rates in schools with and without school mask requirements.

    Using data from July 1–September 4, 2021, counties that met the following criteria were included in the Analysis: 1) a valid school start date, and MCH Strategic Data* included a known school mask requirement for at least one district; 2) in districts with known school mask requirements, a uniform mask requirement for all students or no students; and 3) at least 3 weeks with 7 full days of case data since the start of the 2021–22 school year. For counties with multiple school districts, the median school start date was used. Counties with conflicting school mask requirements were excluded from this Analysis; only those counties with the same known mask requirements for all schools were included. Among the 3,142 U.S. counties included in the initial sample, 16.5% (520) were included in the final Analysis after applying the selection criteria. County-specific pediatric COVID-19 rates (number of cases per 100,000 population aged <18 years) from CDC’s COVID Data Tracker† were tabulated and aggregated by school start week. To account for the variation in the weeks each county started school, weeks were numbered from −3 to 2; the school start date was the beginning of week 0. Aggregated pediatric COVID-19 case counts and rates were calculated; average weekly changes were compared for counties with and without school mask requirements using a one-sided t-test. To further assess the association between pediatric COVID-19 cases and school mask requirements, a multiple linear regression was constructed that adjusted for age, race and ethnicity,§ pediatric COVID-19 vaccination rate, COVID-19 community Transmission, population density, social vulnerability index score,¶ COVID-19 community vulnerability index score,** percentage uninsured, and percentage living in poverty. Statistical analyses were completed using SciPY (version 1.2.1) and Statsmodels (version 0.11) Analysis modules for Python (version 3.7.6; Python Software Foundation). Statistical significance was defined as p<0.05 for all analyses. This activity was reviewed by CDC and was conducted consistent with applicable federal law and CDC policy.††

    Suggested citation for this article: Budzyn SE, Panaggio MJ, Parks SE, et al. Pediatric COVID-19 Cases in Counties With and Without School Mask Requirements — U.S. July 1–September 4, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 24 September 2021.

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