Mask mandates, a controversial political tool of politicians, public health officials, and teachers’ unions, divides America over the efficacy of wearing cloth masks indoors or outdoors to prevent infection from the coronavirus. A study confirmed that teachers’ unions have a heavy influence in imposing mask mandates, which calls into question their true intentions.
According to the study from George Washington University (GWU), the stronger that a teachers’ union is, the more likely that there will be a mask mandate in a school district. It measured the rates of teacher unionization to the adoption of mask mandates in school districts.
GWU’s study found that the probability of mask mandates in school districts “increased along with the teachers’ unionization rate.” The political partisanship of union members played a large role in mask mandate adoption, i.e., school districts with Democratic Party-leaning union members “were more likely” to impose mask mandates than Republican-leaning ones.
The foundation of the study focused on the question of whether union demands about mask mandates in schools would lead to the adoption of “this important safety measure” and based its research on information from the Iowa State Education Association. Although the study entirely focused on the state of Iowa and its teachers’ unions, the study’s authors said that it could be a model for other states to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the study cited the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) guidance that wearing cloth masks would prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It failed to acknowledge that other studies debunked the CDC’s guidance by finding that cloth masks do not reduce the rates of infection. Neither did the study point out that school-age children are the demographic least likely to suffer serious effects from the coronavirus.
The study was published in the journal “Health Affairs” in August 2021. Its authors were Adam Dean, assistant political science professor at GWU; Jamie McCallum, Middlebury College assistant professor; Simeon Kimmel, assistant professor at Boston University; and Atheendar Venkataramani, University of Pennsylvania assistant professor.