Survey: Only 49% of Students Remove Masks during PE Class

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A mask

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A recent survey has shown that 68% of students in Japan, from sixth graders to second-year high school students, want to take off their face masks during physical education classes, while only 49% actually do so.

As many children are believed to be wearing masks against their will on other occasions as well, an expert said, “It’s desirable to create an environment where children can decide whether to wear or not at their own will.”

On March 13, the criteria for wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were greatly relaxed in Japan, and it is now up to individual judgment whether to wear masks both indoors and outdoors.

The National Center for Child Health and Development conducted the survey in April-May on children across Japan and received responses from 749 children. The valid response rate was 30%.

The survey asked whether the respondents want to wear masks and whether they do so by citing specific situations.

Similar to the case of PE classes, 58% of the students said they want to take off their masks on their way to school and back home, while only 32% do so. When using libraries, 34% want to take off their masks and 7% have them off.

Asked to give reasons for wanting to wear masks, with multiple answers allowed, while many said they want to prevent infection, 47% said they feel secure with masks on, 44% said everyone is wearing them and 14% said they would be looked at strangely or made fun of if they did not wear masks.

“Children’s colds, including herpangina, are spreading now, “ Naho Morisaki of the center said. At the same time, it will get even hotter from now on, she added.

“There are reasons for both wearing masks and taking them off,” Morisaki said.

With the survey finding that there are many children who wear masks even though they want to take them off, she said, “I want adults to think about the reasons for putting on and taking off masks together with children and create an environment where children can make their own decisions.”