Face Mask Machinations

There is one issue in Sweden that has annoyed me from day 1. Sverige seems like a country that would put the public good ahead of individual freedoms. The leaders claimed they were following the science on all issues related to covid 19 so why are they ignoring the data on mask effectiveness?

We’ve been wearing masks in public indoor spaces and outdoors if there are space issues. There are lots of internationals here in Lund so it’s not uncommon, but the vast majority of people do not wear masks. It seems to me that people are choosing to misinterpret the lack of mask recommendation by the Swedish Health authority to mean that the “risks” outweigh the benefits. It’s not really clear what they think the risks are!

The story below cites a hindrance to communication as a reason for not allowing the student to wear one in school. I’m occasionally asked to remove my mask for identification purposes in situations where it seems completely unnecessary, but most of the time no one says anything. Once a person seemed to cough deliberately in my direction. Some kids at the mall made rude comments in English, and once a man in the grocery store talked to me animatedly in Swedish while gesturing to the distance markers on the floor. I assume he was trying to tell me that keeping distance is enough and that I shouldn’t be wearing a mask, but I don’t really know.

Our kids were questioned repeatedly by classmates and teachers about mask wearing at school, in a manner that made them feel they needed to defend the science and our choice, but no one asked them to remove the masks. A few teachers and kids now wear them regularly. And although Sweden denied any strategy of herd immunity, we do believe that a large number of teachers and staff at ISLK have already had Coronavirus, so the atmosphere is now more relaxed.

It does seem like they meant to “allow” healthy young people to get sick, making personal responsibility the main strategy for protecting the vulnerable. I think that message runs counter to Sweden’s stated prioritization of responsibility to society and raising good citizens.

This story got me “hotted up” to borrow a local expression (I think it’s British)


And below is an update to that story…

No, Swedish schools can’t send students home just for wearing face masks

Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT has spoken with Sweden’s Education Agency (Skolverket) after The Local last week interviewed a motherwhose 13-year-old son was sent home from school after he refused to remove his face mask. The school said it was following Stockholm’s coronavirus recommendations on face masks, but the infectious disease unit in Stockholm said it had issued no recommendations on masks in schools.

Skolverket told SVT that Sweden’s Education Act does not give schools the power to send students home for wearing or not wearing a face mask. “The only situation really where you can send a student home is if the principal decides on suspension, if that option is needed to secure other students’ safety and studies,” said a spokesperson.

Swedish vocabulary: suspension – 

I’m pretty sure the Health Authority determined that the potential divisions that would arise from any kind of mask mandate would outweigh the benefits. Instead, it seems like we have the divisions without the benefits. I also wonder if they decided to avoid any decision about face coverings in order to steer clear of the controversies surrounding religious face and head coverings. I guess I can understand that goal, but it’s so frustrating that a simple, common sense strategy to help people stay healthy is in any way controversial. People are stupid.

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