Kids in the state of New York will return to school on January 3, 2022, and when they do, they will be schooling under Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’s new “Stay Safe, Stay Open” plan, a multi-pronged strategy for kids to return to school in a safe, in-person environment. Be prepared for your child to wear N95 masks all day long.
Michael P. Senger was the first to tweet out that this was included in “The Adams Plan.” Senger, a lawyer and the author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World, immediately took to Twitter by announcing that Adams’ COVID plan is calling for N95 masks in New York schools.
His tweet then read: “N95 masks are extremely tight-fitting and horrendously uncomfortable when worn for long periods. Anyone talking about making kids wear them all day is sadistic and unserious.”
Senger also did include a picture of The Adams Plan, one that, by the number of comments, many are questioning the fact if the plan actually states Adams is calling for kids to wear an N95 mask or not.
Under the SLOWING THE SPREAD portion of Adams’ plan, it does state verbatim that “The City will distribute an additional 2M higher-grade masks (KN95, KF94, and N95) in January, particularly via community-based organizations and Health Department sites.”
Under the SCHOOLS section of the Adams Plan, it states: To fully reopen on January 3, we will implement the Stay Safe, Stay Open Plan, particularly:
- Double surveillance testing and adjust Situation Room and quarantine protocols.
- Send home millions of rapid at-home tests for students and educators.
- Strengthen our mitigation measures, including higher quality masks and improved ventilation.
To be fair, nowhere in The Adams Plan does the Mayor-Elect specifically say that students returning to school on January 3rd will have to do so wearing an N95 mask. There are many, though, who are adding 2 and 2 and coming up with 95.
As many may already be aware, especially as COVID was hitting records highs, N95 masks were pretty much non-existent for kids. They were even extremely hard to find for adults. N95 masks were mainly made for adults, and it wasn’t until recently that manufacturers began making them for the little ones.
But as many have pointed out, wearing an N95 mask all day long is not a pleasant experience for adults, so how could it be for kids in school?
There were some responses that first questioned Senger’s assumption that The Adams Plan called for children to show up at school wearing an N95 mask.
And then there were some who were on the side of N95’s, even if they weren’t called for exactly by Adams.
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While New York looks to come back to school safely, some experts agree that an N95 mask for kids is not even necessary. This is not to say that these experts aren’t taking COVID, the Delta variant, and the new Omicron variant seriously, because they are.
Dr. Allison Bartlett is a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Chicago Medicine and the mother of three young boys, all under the age of 12. She said her boys will be returning to school (they have) and when they do they will be wearing masks.
“The whole COVID pandemic has changed with the delta variant and the very high levels of spread,” Bartlett told Good Morning America via ABC7. “It’s true that most kids don’t get sick, but most kids are not all.” According to current data from the CDC, only 558 school aged children have died from COVID in the United States, during the ENTIRE pandemic. According to their stats, it’s not even one of the five leading causes of death for most children. It’s also worth noting that of that 558, the CDC says nearly all had serious, pre-existing co-morbidities. So while most is not all, it’s nearly all.
Bartlett, however, continues promoting mask-wearing in school. “I hope that parents understand that no kid likes wearing masks, but the kids that I have interacted with completely understand why they’re doing this, that they’re doing this to protect other people,” she said. “It’s a team effort and everyone has to contribute.”
When Good Morning America spoke with Bartlett, Dr. Richard Malley, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician at Columbia University, they all three came to the same conclusion – children do not need to be wearing N95 masks.
All three doctors agreed that an N95 mask provides the best protection against COVID and its many and increasing variants, they are not designed or need to be used by the young ones. “N95 masks on a child may not fit and even if they do fit, they’re not as comfortable,” said Malley. “We don’t want to be recommending masks that kids are not willing to wear.”
What the doctors do point out is that for N95 masks to work properly, they must have a proper fit. It is for this reason that medical staffs across the country go through intense fitting procedures just to make sure they are safe and snug.
“Absolutely an N95 that has been fitted to you provides the most protection. It is true in a healthcare setting but not relevant to kids and schools,” said Bartlett. “They don’t really make child-size N95s and unless you’ve gone through the fit testing, it doesn’t really provide any extra protection.” It should be noted, though, that more and more companies are beginning to make them.
What do these doctors recommend? They say whatever mask a child will wear will be the best one for them, regardless. The main point is that they have some kind of protection on their faces, if you’re someone who believes they need that.
It remains to be seen if The Adams Plan actually calls for children wearing an N95 mask or not. 2 + 2 may equal 95 and then again, it may not.