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FIRST ON FOX: A group of Republican House members are pressing Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on why the district is leaving its mask mandate for schoolchildren in place even as it’s set to remove the requirement for adults in many settings this week.
“The decision to mandate masks in our children’s schools is not one that should be made lightly,” the letter reads. “The effects these masks place on children expands beyond the realm of a public health measure.”
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., is leading the letter. He’s joined by 11 other members including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Mary Miller. R-Ill., Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., and Brian Babin, R-Texas.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, is also a member of the coalition supporting the letter.
BOWSER LIFTING DC MASK MANDATE FOR BARS, GYMS AND CONCERTS, BUT NOT SCHOOLS
The representatives said they are happy D.C. rolled back its indoor vaccine mandate last month and its mask mandate starting Tuesday.
But developmental issues related to children wearing masks are well-documented, they said. Therefore, the Republicans continued, it makes little sense “why students and teachers are forced to continue wearing these masks when customers at bars and restaurants, among other places, no longer have to wear them.”
“Several prominent researchers have speculated that language development among children could be hindered with the loss of facial cues,” they wrote. “Additionally, many psychiatrists are worried about the possibility of emotional effects. The lack of emotional expression could significantly disrupt the implicit feedback that is exchanged between a teacher and student.”
DC COUNCIL MEMBER WITHDRAWS ATTEMPT TO REINSTATE VACCINE MANDATE, SAYS BOWSER NOT FOLLOWING ‘THE SCIENCE’
They added: “This has made us question whether the logic behind this decision is truly rooted in science or is attributed to political motives.”
The letter asks Bowser to provide information about how the decision to lift the mask mandate for adults but not children was made, the “system” being used to determine where masks are required and an estimated date to lift school mask mandates.
Earlier this month, when she announced the mask mandate move, Bowser appeared to attribute the continued requirement for schoolchildren to the fact those under 5 are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
REPUBLICANS PRESS FOR DC TO REMOVE MASK MANDATES FOR CHILDREN
“We continue to work with our school communities over what they think it will take to keep kids safe and in school,” Bowser said. “We thought that our last group of little ones would have access to the vaccine in February. It turns out it’s going to be sometime later. So I don’t think that we’re going to have a decision about schools sometime soon.”
Other areas in D.C. where masks will still be mandated include libraries, childcare facilities, health care facilities, transit and government offices where employees interact with the public.
The mandate will be lifted Tuesday for restaurants, bars, concerts, sports venues, businesses, retail stores, grocery stores and government offices where employees don’t interact with the public.
“Despite overwhelming evidence that school mask mandates are harmful to the social well being of children and do little to slow viral spread, Mayor Bowser has not revoked the requirement,” Norman told said in a statement. “You can now walk into a packed bar or restaurant without a mask but if you’re a kid in school you’re treated differently. That’s a shame.”
A similar group of House Republicans last week pressed Bowser to simply remove the school mask mandate – although their letter did not demand documentation of her decision-making as the latest one led by Norman does.
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Many other state and local governments are removing mask and vaccine mandates as case numbers from the omicron variant decrease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week also eased its indoor mask guidelines.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.