A new Politico-Harvard survey found that an overwhelming majority of parents feel as though masks either hurt their children at school or have no effect on them at all.
A Politico-Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll released Friday revealed that 41% of parents said wearing masks in school "hurts" their children's "general schooling experience." Another 47% of parents said masks in school "doesn't make a difference." Only 11% said that masking kids in school "helps" a child's general schooling experience.
There was a major divide on the topic of masking children in school along party lines: 63% of Republicans said masks hurt children in their schooling experiences compared to 19% of Democrats who said the same. Meanwhile, 45% of independents said masking up kids hurts, while only 6% said it helps.
There were 34% who said that masks harm their children's education, while 55% said it doesn't have an impact.
When it comes to social interactions, 46% of parents say masks negatively affect children. There were 45% who said it doesn't make a difference, according to the poll of 478 U.S. adults with children in their household who attend school in person from kindergarten to 12th grade. Some 73% of Republican parents said masks hinder social learning and interactions versus 50% of independents and 20% of Democrats.
The survey, which was taken between March 1-7, found that 39% of parents believe wearing masks at school harms the mental and emotional health of their children.
In schools that already have a mask mandate, a whopping 68% of parents said it is "necessary today for a child to wear a mask at school in order to be safe from COVID-19 and variants such as Omicron." Meanwhile, in schools without mask mandates, it is the exact opposite – 67% say masks are not necessary. Overall, 51% of parents say kids should wear masks in schools versus 47% who said it isn't necessary.
Similar numbers were found along party lines – 73% of Democrats saying masks are necessary for children to protect against COVID-19, while 73% of Republican parents said it is absolutely not necessary for children to be masked in school.
"Even if I’m in a Democratic state or district, I'd pay attention because there are a substantial number of independent parents who think the policy is hurting their children," Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis, emeritus, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Politico. "If you say something hurts my children, you’re going to feel strongly about it ... Anything that has an impact on your family has a disproportionate impact on how you think of things."
"The parents who are against it are not going back. They've concluded it’s not good for children's education and it's two years of this," Blendon added. "When you have a substantial number of parents who think their children are being threatened, it's going to matter politically."