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Evidence supporting the wearing of masks for school children protects them against infection and spread of covid-19

Grant made this Official Information request to Ministry of Education

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From: Grant

Dear Ministry of Education,

On the Unite Against Covid-19 website it states the latest ruling on masks (https://covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay...), and it states in the latest update, Jan 25, 2022, masks must be worn "in an indoor setting at schools, for example a classroom and assemblies. This includes visitors, students in Years 4 to 13 and staff".

Can you please provide me with the evidence that you have used to support your conclusion that masks are protecting school children from covid-19.

As it is now well established that the virus is much smaller than what masks protect against, and the virus spreads as an aerosol and will leak through gaps in masks and can infect a person via the eyes as well, what evidence is there that masks are effective in stopping the virus?

Yours faithfully,
Grant Senior

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See also: Policies of face-masks for school children
https://fyi.org.nz/request/18425-policie...

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Kia ora Grant Senior    

 

Thank you for your request for information below.  The Ministry will
consider and respond to your request in accordance with the Official
Information Act 1982 (the Act).

 

Under section 15(1) of the Act, we are required to make and inform you of
our decision on your request as soon as reasonably practicable and in any
case not later than 20 working days after the day on which your request is
received.  You can therefore expect to receive our decision on your
request on or before the 4 March 2022.  If more than 20 working days are
needed due to the potential workload and/or consultations involved in
answering your request, we will notify you accordingly.

 

The Ministry may publicly release on our website the response to your
request five days after you have received it. Any personal information
will be removed.

 

In the interim, if you have any questions about your request, please email
[1][email address].

 

Ngā mihi

 

Enquiries National Team | Ministry of Education - TW
[2]education.govt.nz  |  [3]Follow us on Twitter: @educationgovtnz

[4]Te TD huhu o te MD tauranga

 

 

 

 

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From: Enquiries National


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Tēnā koe Grant

 

Thank you for your email of 3 February 2022 to the Ministry of Education
requesting the following information:

 

o On the Unite Against Covid-19 website it states the latest ruling on
masks
([1]https://covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay...),
and it states in the latest update, Jan 25, 2022, masks must be worn
"in an indoor setting at schools, for example a classroom and
assemblies. This includes visitors, students in Years 4 to 13 and
staff".
o Can you please provide me with the evidence that you have used to
support your conclusion that masks are protecting school children from
covid-19.
o As it is now well established that the virus is much smaller than what
masks protect against, and the virus spreads as an aerosol and will
leak through gaps in masks and can infect a person via the eyes as
well, what evidence is there that masks are effective in stopping the
virus?

 

Your request has been considered under the Official Information Act 1982
(the Act).

 

This is a challenging time for everyone in New Zealand as we continue to
respond to COVID-19. As you know, at the Red setting of the COVID-19
Protection Framework, it is mandatory for masks to be worn in a number of
places including on public transport, inside public venues and inside
retail businesses. Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask whenever they
leave the house.

 

Masks are a key health measure to protect ourselves and others from
COVID-19 and are an important layer of protection in schools. The rules
and guidance for schools and kura also focus on reducing the spread. We
know that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than previous
variants, so we do need to ensure that our young people are also
protected.

 

The Government decision regarding the wearing of masks for students Year 4
and above was made by Cabinet, informed by advice from the Ministry of
Health about the importance of mask wearing. We will continue to follow
the advice from the Ministry of Health regarding the need for masks to be
worn in schools. 

 

The requirements for face coverings in educational settings are set out in
COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 (as at
23 January 2022) as a legal requirement. You can find the Health Order at
[2]COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework and Other
Matters) Amendment Order 2022 (SL 2022/6) – New Zealand Legislation.

 

As you may know, schools are self-governing through their Board. They are
ultimately responsible for ensuring that relevant legislation is
implemented in their school, including Orders issued under the COVID-19
Public Health Response Act 2020. The Ministry’s role is to support schools
and kura to implement those requirements. The Ministry’s main channel for
providing guidance to schools is via the Bulletin for School Leaders on
their website, which can be accessed at the following link:
[3]https://www.education.govt.nz/school/min....

 

While masks are a requirement, schools should not be restricting access to
education for those who are not able to wear a mask. It is not necessary
for students to have an official mask exemption card if they have a
disability or health condition that makes wearing a mask unsuitable, and
schools will know who has a genuine reason for this.

 

Further information about mask exemptions can be found on the Unite
Against COVID-19 website at the following link:
[4]https://covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay....

 

We have advised schools that teachers and students should make appropriate
decisions about always keeping a mask on, including ensuring that teachers
and students can communicate effectively with each other. This is one of
the contributing factors as to why masks are not mandatory for staff and
children below year 4, or for children and teachers in early learning
settings.

 

The Ministry of Health provides clear advice about how to safely wear a
face mask and when this may not be appropriate, including that they should
not be worn by people that are not able to remove the mask themselves or
when they may have difficulty breathing. Advice relating to the safety and
impact of masks would have been produced by the Ministry of Health.

 

Health advice around the use of face masks can be found at the following
link:
[5]https://www.health.govt.nz/covid-19-nove....

 

The Ministry of Education is providing a one-off supply of masks to
schools and kura for learners in Years 4 and above. This one-off supply is
expected to be available in late February and allocated to every school
(excluding private schools) to use at their discretion, based on roll size
and decile. This supports schools to cover any additional needs they may
face (for example, where students cannot provide their own mask, or where
a student’s mask may get lost or damaged).

 

Your request

 

Regarding your request, the Ministry of Health provided advice to Cabinet
to support their decision to mandate the use of masks in schools. Schools
are self-governing through their Board and are responsible for
implementing Health and Safety measures, including those mandated by the
COVID-19 Health Protection Orders.

 

Information relating to the effectiveness of masks in reducing spread is
available on the Ministry of Health website at the following link: 
[6]https://www.health.govt.nz/covid-19-nove...

 

Any assessment as to the efficacy of masks in slowing the spread of
COVID-19 would have been completed by the Ministry of Health. We recommend
that you direct any questions about the public health advice that
contributed to Cabinet’s decision to mandate masks in schools to Health by
emailing [7][email address]

 

Please note, the Ministry now proactively publishes OIA responses on our
website. As such, we may publish this response on our website after five
working days. Your name and contact details will be removed.

 

Thank you again for your email. You have the right to ask an Ombudsman to
review this decision. You can do this by writing to
[8][email address] or Office of the Ombudsman, PO Box 10152,
Wellington 6143.

 

 

Nāku noa, nā

Enquiries National Team | Ministry of Education - TW
[9]education.govt.nz  |  [10]Follow us on Twitter: @educationgovtnz

[11]Te TD huhu o te MD tauranga

 

 

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