While the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Education and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center all recommend masks for children right now, some parents are against it. Meanwhile, some local schools are now requiring it. If you combine mask-wearing with other health and safety measures, it does reduce the risk of catching sickness, doctors say.
“Our goal is to safely get kids back in school and keep kids in school,” says Abigail Stein, M.D. with TriHealth Pediatrics. “Despite schools doing their best to make virtual learning successful, frequent quarantine periods and time spent in virtual learning environments has had profound negative effects on children in the past year. Not only is their education disrupted, but it is also having widespread effects on their mental and physical health,” she adds.
So how well do masks really work? According to Stein, studies show that masking was proven to be effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19 and other sicknesses last school year.
“Masks work!” she continues. “Since we know this, children who have a close exposure to COVID-19 but are masking and distancing appropriately do not need to quarantine, allowing them to stay in school, rather than constantly being pulled in and out of the classroom.”
With the Delta variant being more transmissible than COVID and affecting kids more significantly than previous strains, according to Stein, masking up is one of the best actions families can take this year.
“Your child deserves better than another year spent in front of a computer and away from their peers,” she says.
MASK-WEARING TIPS FOR KIDS
Stein and Camille Graham, M.D., pediatrician at Mercy Health Primary Care and Family Medicine and Pediatrics in Kenwood, give tips to help your kids be more comfortable with mask-wearing this school year.
• Model mask-wearing to your kids if you want them to wear theirs.
• Offer choices: Have multiple masks for them to choose from, just as they choose their outfit for school.
• Show them the proper way to wear a mask and most likely they won’t mind wearing one.
• Normalize mask-wearing by wearing them wherever you go.
• Model hand-washing and distancing.