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How to Write About Masks in Schools, by WRAL

Even though randomized control trials never found masks to be effective, even though Covid-19 infections occurred at about the same frequency in comparable areas with and without mask mandates in place, even though Covid-19 infections occurred at the same rate in masked and unmasked people in the same area, and even though every one of the 12 times Gov. Roy Cooper either extended or tightened his original mask order, case numbers were actually higher than they were when he first issued it on the promise the order would reduce cases, the cult of the mask lives on.

Its focus is now on schools, forcing masks on the population proven to be least affected by Covid, but perhaps most likely to be trained to obey and comply. For them, WRAL has an article today: “COVID clusters in schools ‘inevitable’; masks could help minimize spread.”

It’s an instructive example on how to write about masks in schools. Here’s how:

Opening paragraphs: Set the stage

State that Covid cases in the classroom are “all but inevitable” and follow with a fact that there is already a Covid cluster identified in a Wake County school.

Next paragraph: Raise the stakes

Heighten the tension by substituting out “all but inevitable,” which implies it’ll probably happen but not be commonplace, with “could become commonplace.”

Following paragraphs: Cite one expert

Find one expert to call for masking. In this case, the locally ubiquitous Dr. David Wohl of UNC Health. “The best way to minimize spread? Wearing a mask, he says.”

Wohl called for masks on everyone in schools, even kids as young as 3, and if he cautioned about many negative effects of child masking, let alone how extremely unlikely it is for children as young as 3 to follow proper mask protocols known to adults working in health care facilities, WRAL doesn’t quote it. They don’t need to. They got what the story needed.

Paragraph nine: Bury a key fact

Now that you’ve established that school Covid clusters are inevitable commonplace, the proof of which being that a Wake County school is already suffering one, and that the “best way” to minimize it is to have masks on everyone in school, casually mention in the ninth paragraph that Wake County schools already require masks on everyone: “Currently Wake County Schools requires masks for all students and staff on all campus.”

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...