THURSDAY, March 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Masks are important for preventing COVID-19 incidence in kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) school settings, according to research published in the March 11 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Catherine V. Donovan, Ph.D., from the CDC COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, and colleagues compared weekly school-associated COVID-19 incidence in school districts with full or partial mask requirements with the incidence in districts without mask requirements during Aug. 23 to Oct. 16, 2021, in Arkansas.

The researchers found that the mean weekly district-level attack rates were 92 to 359 per 100,000 persons in the community and 137 to 745 per 100,000 students and staff members. Mean vaccination coverage ranged from 13.5 to 18.6 percent among students and staff members. After adjustment for vaccination coverage, the multivariable-adjusted incidence rate ratios indicated that the incidence of COVID-19 was 23 percent lower among students and staff members in districts with full mask requirements versus school districts with no mask requirements. The observed-to-expected ratios for full and partial mask policies were lower than those for districts with no mask policy, with slightly higher ratios for districts with partial versus full policies. The incidence among students and staff members decreased by 479.7 per 100,000 upon implementation of the mask policy among districts that switched from no mask requirement to any mask requirement.

“Masks remain an important part of a multicomponent approach to preventing COVID-19 in K-12 settings, especially in communities with high COVID-19 community levels,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Moderna.

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