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Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott are getting slammed by Democrats and media personalities for their opposition to COVID-19 masking in schools, despite taking an approach that falls in line with many nations across the globe.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends universal indoor masking by all students ages 2 and older. While many states and school districts have followed the CDC’s guidance by instituting mask mandates in schools, DeSantis issued an executive order allowing parents to opt their children out.
Abbott, meanwhile, has banned mask mandates by any government entity, though enforcement of the ban is currently paused because of ongoing court challenges.
The oppositional approach to mask mandates by the Republican governors has earned them scorn and derision by the media and the Democratic Party, who argue their policies have prolonged the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden accused Abbott of “Neanderthal thinking” for lifting his mask mandate in March and he routinely battles DeSantis over his handling of the pandemic, telling him earlier this month to “get out of the way” of local mandates.
But contrary to the CDC, many European and developed countries have decided against recommending masks for young children in schools or other public settings.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, an agency of the European Union, does not recommend masks for children 6 and under in any setting or for children 12 and under in a classroom setting. In the Republic of Ireland, children ages 13 and younger are only advised to wear a mask if they attend middle school. In Sweden, children have never been told to wear masks in school.
In Iceland, children ages 15 and younger are exempt from mask requirements. In Norway, schoolchildren 7 and younger are not required to wear masks. When it comes to the U.K., which is reporting a similar COVID-19 surge as the U.S., public health officials in England and Wales are no longer recommending masks in classrooms starting this September. In Scotland, children 12 and under are no longer required to wear face coverings in public places. And officials in Northern Ireland have indicated they plan to drop masking requirements in schools this fall.
In New Zealand, masks are not recommended in schools or for children younger than 6 in any public setting, but children or teachers who wish to wear them “may do so if they want to” and “should not be criticized for doing so,” the country’s Ministry for Education website currently states.
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