Harvard Professor: ‘We Can Sleepwalk Into Indefinite Masking’

Harvard Professor: ‘We Can Sleepwalk Into Indefinite Masking’

One Harvard professor has some ideas for how to get “back to normal.”


Dr. Joseph Allen, a Harvard University associate professor, is contending that mask mandates should be pulled back at schools if regulators eventually authorize coronavirus vaccines for children aged five to eleven.

“We have to be careful that, if we don’t set firm deadlines, it’s easy to see how we can sleepwalk into indefinite masking,” he said during a weekend interview on CNBC.


“With the approval of vaccines, expected very shortly, for five- to eleven-year-olds, it makes sense that we should no longer have mask mandates in schools,” continued the director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  

In addition, Allen noted the fact that while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made known its metrics for face masking for adults, the agency has “inexplicably” not done so for when masks can be set aside for the nation’s children.

Like White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, he also emphasized that the best way to protect children was for adults to get inoculated as soon as possible.

“We should be mandating vaccines for all adults in schools,” Allen said.

Masks Into 2022

Fauci several months ago noted that “approaching a degree of normality” by the end of this year is a possibility—but did warn that pandemic-weary Americans may still be wearing masks and coverings well into 2022.

“You know, I think it is possible that that’s the case (that Americans will be wearing masks in 2022) and, again, it really depends on what you mean by normality,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN’s State of the Union.

Fauci added that by the end of 2021, “we’re going to have a significant degree of normality beyond the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year. As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with (President Joe Biden) completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality.”

Cases Still Too High

Meanwhile, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has claimed that mask requirements need to be continued until we can get coronavirus “cases down.” 

“We're heading into winter where respiratory viruses generally do thrive,” she told NBC’s Today on Friday.

“So right now, I would say our hard work is to continue to get those cases down, to continue to get people vaccinated not only our children, when and if they’re ready, but as well the sixty-three million Americans who are not yet vaccinated at all. And to continue those prevention measures until we can really get those cases down,” she added.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters