Updated: Dec 17, 2021
Does 2 cases in a 14-day period sound like "a school-associated outbreak" to you?!
According to the CDC, the answer is "yes". "The AZ Study" is one of only two studies that Central District Health is using to justify their "universal masking" recommendations that Boise School District turns into a "mask mandate". This study compares schools from two counties in AZ for July-August 2021. Some schools within those two counties had mask mandates and others did not. The study concludes that the schools without the mask mandates were 3.5 times more likely to suffer a COVID outbreak than the schools that required masks.
That sounds pretty compelling, right? Wrong. And here's just a few reasons why.
First, the study was published on 9/24/21... nearly two months AFTER the updated CDC/CDH school guidance was released implying that the two counties in AZ were selected because their data supported a pre-determined conclusion. Presumably the CDC (or anyone else) could choose two other counties in any state in the US to compare that would have inconclusive or even opposite findings.
Second, the study does not account for other factors such as, but not limited to, differences in vaccination rates, ventilation or time spent outdoors (likely very little since the study took place in AZ in July and August).
Third, and most important: "A school-associated outbreak was defined as the occurrence of two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff members at the school within a 14-day period". That's it... two cases in a two week period is defined as an "outbreak" and the study does not say whether or not the cases were linked to at-school transmission. This presumably means that there could be two cases at a school during a two week period, neither of which were contracted at school, but this still counts as a "school-associated outbreak".
Really, Central District Health? Is this the best you and the CDC can do?