by Sara Gandini, epidemiologist / biostatistician, Elena Dragagna, lawyer, Francesco Pigozzo and Daniela Martinelli (The Lost)
A group of parents of children and teenagers who attend Milanese schools, supported by scholars and scientists, taking inspiration from other cities, mobilized to ask the Territorial Scholastic Office and Guarantor of the rights of children and adolescents of the Municipality Silvio Premoli to get the Ministry of Education, the whole government and Parliament a fort dissent message compared to the free extension of the mask for pupils and school students. The initiative was also supported by Saverio Mauro Tassi with the group Equal school for all, by Claudia Cipriani with the REM group and by the pedagogist Daniele Novara. The letter was officially sent to the recipients on May 12, 2022, accompanied by the first 1000 signatures collected among citizens, but will continue to be disseminated to collect further adhesions to this link.
Several other cities both in Lombardy and in other Italian regions, similar initiatives are being launched. The signatories of the letter, incredulous and worried about the fact that, in a national situation of the end of the pandemic emergency, with the fall of the obligation to wear masks not only outdoors but also in many indoor venues (from bars to restaurants, supermarkets and shops, up to discos notoriously more crowded than a classroom), at school the use of the mask continues to be imposed, they pointed out that:
– various scientific studies, including meta-analysishave shown that minors get sick very rarely and they are also significantly less susceptible to infection, infecting less frequently than adults;
– WHO, in March 2022, when asked: “Should my child wear a mask?”, he highlighted that “The decisions about the use of the mask in children should be guided by what is best interest of the child ”and, in particular that“ The use of the mask should be flexible, so that children can continue playing, studying and carrying out daily activities. These activities are an important part of the child’s development and health. No child should be denied access to school or activities because of thelack of a mask “;
– the scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of masks at school in reducing infections is scarce, in particularly in minors; in this regard, in addition to the Danish randomized study Danmask, recently also a large studio conducted in schools in Spain questioned the use of masks among children in primary school, as well as relationships of the Department for Education of the Government of Great Britain have shown that the use of masks and spacing rules in the school setting they were not decisive to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Faced with this situation, in the letter it is pointed out that in the scientific literature the serious damage caused by masks on health is emerging – and, in fact, even before literature, are concretely ascertainable in the first person by parents, educators, etc … psychophysics of children in terms of learning, communication and language development difficulties. In particular, masks have been shown to prevent children from understanding emotionswith potentially negative implications for their emotional growth, for the understanding of emotions and non-verbal language, for the development of empathy and trust in the other.
WHO and Unicef have highlighted the risk given by the “potential impact of the use of a mask on learning and psychosocial development”. As Renata Tambelli, professor of childhood psychopathology at Sapienza, explained in an interview with Republic of 17 April 2022 and reported in the letter in question: “Much of the communication, up to 10 years of age, passes through the non-verbal language, expressed largely by the face. For two years we have been putting children in front of disguised emotions, this can have both short and long-term implications on the recognition of expressions and associated emotions “. Last but not least, the signatories of the letter highlight how the FFP2 masks have not been homologated for children’s faces, as reported by Altroconsumo.
Italia is now one of the few European countries to claim that children wear masks at school and this claim for us is configured as a real abuse, being completely unjustified, disproportionate as well as in our opinion highly damaging of children’s rights. In this situation and faced with the gravity of the same, the signatories of the letter ask the territorial school office of Milan and the Guarantor of the rights for children and adolescents of the Municipality of Milan to:
– forward the same communication to the Ministry of Education, activating and activating it so that the obligation to wear masks in school is immediately eliminated;
– receive a delegation of the signatories of the letter, available to further detail and document the most up-to-date scientific evidence in support of the request;
– publicly take a stand in defense of the rights of children and young people.
A prompt response from the institutions involved is expected. Our children and young people, who have suffered so much during these two (and more) years, need more than ever to be interested and protected so that the damage already caused does not worsen further.