news·3 min read

Daily Skimm: School Mask Mandates, IRS, and Leslie Jones

First graders listen to LAUSD interim Superintendent Megan Reilly read a book at Normont Elementary
Getty Images
Feb 8, 2022

Why Aren’t You in Uniform?

The Story

Democratic states are rolling back mask mandates.

Where do we stand? 

Nine states right now require masks indoors — including in schools. All are led by Dems. In recent months, other states have let their mask mandates expire…if they had them to begin with. Yesterday, New Jersey, Connecticut, Oregon, and Delaware said ‘we’re rolling them back,’ ending school mask mandates later this month or next.

Why now? 

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are dropping. All while an FDA advisory committee is meeting next week to talk about COVID-19 vaccines for kids under five. It comes as a poll show some Americans are yearning for a return to normal. Especially if the politicians enforcing the rules aren’t following them. But that’s just one side of the coin.

Tell me the POVs. 

The evidence is clear: high-quality, tight-fitting masks (hi, N95s) can block 95% of airborne particles. But many kids are wearing cloth masks. And fidgeting with them, wearing them below their noses, you name it. Some research shows that masks can impact speech development in young kids. And for kids with hearing impairments, masks can cut off lip-reading — making it harder for them to learn and socialize. 

What about teachers?

A 2020 study found that one in four teachers (think: nearly 1.5 million people) have a condition that puts them more at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. But teachers — like nearly everyone else — are divided on the topic of masks. Meanwhile, kids are still at-risk for COVID-19. Pediatric hospitalizations soared during the Omicron wave. And vaccine rates for children remain low.

What happens next? 

Many states are leaving it up to districts to decide. Others like New York could follow suit. 


School mask mandates have proven to be divisive among parents, school boards, and just about everyone. Republican states have gone without masks for a while. Now, Democrats are saying ‘it might be time to reconsider.’

And Also...This

Who's saying 'cameras off’...

The IRS. Yesterday, it said 'oops never mind' about using facial recognition. Last year, the Treasury Dept tapped — an identity verification company — to require that taxpayers set up facial recognition tech before accessing their online accounts. Because, fraud and identity theft. But something about a private company having that data didn’t make too many people happy, including lawmakers from across the aisle. Now, the IRS is working to find another way to authenticate people. Maybe like asking the name of our first pet. 

Who’s got everyone’s attention…

Peng Shuai. Yesterday, a French sports newspaper released an interview with the Chinese tennis star — who announced she's retiring. Peng’s been in the headlines since last year after she accused a former Communist Party official of sexual assault. Peng disappeared from the public eye for weeks. But later made public appearances and walked back her allegations. Now, she’s saying she “never disappeared” and that it’s all been a “huge misunderstanding.” Her comments have left many concerned.

What’s taking it one step at a time…

Electrodes. Yesterday, a new study found that electrodes are helping people who are paralyzed gain movement. Three participants reportedly had 16-electrode devices implanted between their vertebrae and spinal cord membrane — receiving a current from a pacemaker. And are remotely controlled from a tablet. The research has been three decades in the making. Now, all three are able to stand, walk, swim, and cycle. About 17,000 Americans suffer a spinal cord injury every year. And this latest development could be giving many some hope.

Who’s preparing for takeoff…

Frontier and Spirit. Yesterday, the two largest low-cost carriers announced they are merging to become the fifth-largest airline in the country. Maybe the deal can throw in free snacks and water.

Who's not nominated for a Razzie Award

Leslie Jones

Skimm More: That's not the only controversy surrounding the Winter Olympics. Here's what else you need to know.

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