A plurality of parents say forced mask-wearing in school “hurts” social learning and interactions, and four in ten believe it “hurts” the mental and emotional health of students, a Politico-Harvard survey found.

The survey asked parents to express their views on the effect mask-wearing has had on their children in school, and there appears to be a major divide. 


A plurality, 46 percent, said forced masks in school “hurts” social learning and interactions, specifically, compared to 45 percent who said it “doesn’t make a difference.” Thirty-nine percent said it “hurts” the mental and emotional health of children, although 50 percent said it “doesn’t make a difference.” Forty-seven percent said masking during the day at school “doesn’t make a difference” when it comes to the general schooling experience, although 41 percent of parents disagree. 

FILE - In this May 18, 2021 file photo, fifth graders wearing face masks are seated at proper social distancing spacing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y. As more children go back to the physical classroom, families are expected to spend robustly on a wide range of items, particularly trendy clothing for the critical back-to-school season, according to one key spending measure.

In this May 18, 2021, file photo, fifth-graders wearing face masks are seated at proper social distancing spacing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y. (Mary Altaffer, File/ASSOCIATED PRESS).

The divide is even more prominent along party lines, particularly among those whose children were forced to wear masks at school this year. A majority of Democrats, for example, do not believe forced masking in school affects a child’s mental and emotional health, while 64 percent of Republicans believe it “hurts” it. Independents tend to side with Democrats on that issue, with 54 percent agreeing. However, half of independents said forced masking in school “hurts” a child’s social learning and interactions, as do 73 percent of Republicans. Sixty-six percent of Democrats, however, are under the impression that it makes no difference. 

According to the survey, party identification plays a big role in determining if an individual believes children should continue to be forced to wear masks in school as well:

Disagreement by party identification is also apparent when it comes to the perceived necessity today for a child to wear a mask at school in order to be safe from Covid-19 and variants such as Omicron. About seven in ten Democratic parents whose schools required them to wear a mask at some time during this school year (71%) believe a child’s wearing a mask at school is necessary in order to be safe. Only 27% of Republican parents share this view 

 Once again, it is significant that more than half of parents who are independents (52%) do not believe it is necessary today for a child to wear a mask at school in order to be safe from Covid19 and variants such as Omicron. Forty-eight percent of independent parents believe wearing a mask is necessary.

The survey, taken March 1-7, 2022, among 478 parents of K-12 students, has a margin of error of +/- 5.9 percent for the entire poll. 

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