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Ask Dr. Nandi: Masking Up for School

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 18:55:10-04

(WXYZ) — We’re just a little over a month away from the start of school. And while questions remain on how districts will educate students safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, we do know that masks will likely be mandatory for in-person learning. Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi gives some dos and don’ts when it comes to face coverings for kids.

Dr. Nandi: That’s right, masks will be a new addition to your child’s list of back-to-school supplies this fall. Masks help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, so face coverings are an important school accessory. Here’s what parents should remember when masking up kids:

-First of all, younger children should wear smaller masks designed for kids. Don’t buy them medical N95 respirators or masks with valves.
-All cloth masks should have multiple layers for the best protection. Experts recommend pleated face coverings with elastic for children.
-Make sure the mask fits properly over your child’s nose and mouth.
-Don’t add any decorations or accessories like chains or lanyards that might encourage your child to fidget with the mask ….
-Children should wash their hands after removing their masks …
-Wash your child’s mask after every use. It’s a good idea to stock up on several masks to get your child through the week.
- And, make sure they’re wearing a mask when they leave the house, so they don’t forget it.

Anchor Question: Dr. Nandi, we know that getting children to wear masks throughout the school day could be a hard sell. What advice do you have for parents?

Dr. Nandi: Yes, let’s face it. All of us – adults and children—have to get used to wearing masks in public places. Here’s how you can make children more comfortable about masking up:
-Sit down with your child and explain why they have to wear a mask . . .
-Emphasize that you love them and want to protect them and others from germs…
-Have them practice wearing a mask for an extended period of time while playing at home...
-And, remember, if they see you wearing a mask, they will wear one too.

Anchor Question: Dr. Nandi, should children of all ages wear face coverings?

Dr. Nandi: Children and babies under the age of two should not wear masks, because they have smaller airwaves and it could impact their breathing. There also are exceptions for students with pre-existing health conditions that make it difficult for them to wear a mask or if they are unable to remove the masks without assistance. Parents should check with their school district about whether a doctor’s note is needed in these cases. The bottom line: let’s make the return to school healthy and safe for everyone.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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