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DC bar exam mandates masks for 12-hour test.

Washington, D.C. Bar Exam Requires Masks Despite Harmful Effects

The Washington, D.C. bar exam is set to take place in July, and all applicants will be required to wear masks during the 12-hour exam, according to instructions reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which administers the test, stated in a memo that applicants must wear a mask fully covering their mouth and nose during the exam. The mandate comes after a German study found that masks expose users to toxic levels of carbon dioxide, which can cause “difficulty concentrating,” “reduced cognitive performance, impaired decision-making and reduced speed of cognitive solutions.”

Mounting Evidence Against Mask Mandates

The Cochrane Review, considered the Bible for evidence-based medicine, found that masking “probably makes little or no difference” in the spread of COVID-19. Despite this, face coverings are still required at the D.C. Court of Appeals, making D.C. a regional outlier. Neither Maryland nor Virginia are requiring masks at their respective bar exams, and the city of Washington, D.C., no longer requires masks in most government buildings.

Harmful Effects of Mask Mandates

There is now mounting evidence that mask mandates are harmful, especially in educational settings. The German study found that masks were associated with a litany of bad health outcomes, from anxiety and “testicular toxicity” to “irreversible neuron damage.” The longer masks are worn, the more likely they are to affect cognitive performance, which is concerning for the 12-hour D.C. bar exam.

Bureaucratic Inertia in D.C.’s Pandemic Response

The mask mandate for the D.C. bar exam comes just days after the COVID national emergency expired, highlighting the bureaucratic inertia that has characterized the district’s pandemic response. D.C. public schools required students and staff to test negative before returning from spring break this April, and, until March 2022, even required masks outdoors, long after scientists concluded the risk of outdoor spread was negligible. Such restrictions proved sticky throughout blue states, with public schools in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania reimposing mask mandates when COVID cases spiked in January.


The harmful effects of mask mandates are becoming increasingly clear, and it is concerning that the D.C. bar exam is still requiring masks despite evidence to the contrary. As we move forward in the pandemic, it is important to consider the potential negative consequences of these mandates and make informed decisions based on the available evidence.

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