Should Kids Still Wear Masks?
September 08, 2022
While the fight against COVID-19 continues, we fortunately have more tools with which to arm ourselves—namely, the increased availability of vaccinations, boosters and effective treatments.
Across the state, and country, we’re seeing masks come off and a return to life as “normal.” But with the school year starting, many parents may question whether or not their kids still need to wear masks indoors. Aswine Bal, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health, weighs in.
Does the CDC still encourage mask-wearing right now?
The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) has implemented setting-specific recommendations for masking, based on its community level guidance report. This report should be used to reduce the spread of COVID-19 based on the implications of community health.
Although masks are not currently mandated—as of September 2022—it is suggested that schools and early care and education programs implement their own core set of infectious disease prevention strategies as a part of normal operations.
Should my child wear a mask to school?
“Community settings, like schools and early care and education programs, can benefit immensely from the implementation of masks,” Dr. Bal says. “Wearing a mask significantly decreases the rate of transmission from those who have symptoms, like a cough, and those that display no symptoms at all, from spreading the virus to others while coughing, sneezing or speaking. Wearing a mask can also help a person keep their hands away from their face, which makes them less likely to infect themselves after touching a contaminated surface or person.”
Children over the age of 2 should wear a mask:
- In social settings where there is unavoidable proximity to others, especially indoors
- In common areas that are more susceptible to virus exposure. This includes, but is not limited to, common dining areas and restrooms
- If they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, such as coughing, or fever
- When otherwise required by mandate or law
Children should not wear a mask:
- If they are under the age of 2
- If they have difficulty breathing
- If they are unable to remove the mask without assistance
“Awareness is the best way to protect your child. Make an informed decision and have a clear understanding of risk factors,” Dr. Bal says.
How can I help my child feel comfortable wearing a mask?
With so many people taking off their masks these days, it can be difficult to encourage your child to wear a mask at school.
Here are a few tips to encourage them:
- Lead by example. By wearing a mask yourself, you can show them it’s OK and offer comfort if they feel scared.
- Make wearing a mask fun by purchasing a mask with their favorite animal or character, or have them decorate their mask themselves.
- Explain the importance of wearing a mask before trying to put the mask on them.
- Give them guidance on when to mask at school and when it’s OK to take it off.
Resources & Next Steps:
- Meet our clinical contributor: Aswine Bal, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Bal or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
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