Kids and Masks: What you need to know to keep kids safe

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 7:20 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - As kids return to school, one of the items on your shopping list might be masks.

Back-to-school is an exciting time of year and as you start getting all your school supplies together. Another thing your child might need is a mask.

Springfield, Bolivar, Republic and Billings are a few of the districts requiring masks; others like Nixa, Ozark, and Willard are strongly recommending them.

So, here are a few things you need to know.

First, make sure the mask fits your child properly. There should be no gaps on the sides and should cover the child’s nose and mouth. One thing to check for is adjustable ear straps and metal nose pieces to make the mask fits your child’s face.

“If they are wearing a mask, it’s going to limit the transmission between them and to others,” said Pediatrician Dr.Kofi Asare-Bawuah. “We also know that the Delta variant, vaccinated kids may transmit the variant as well. So it’s helpful for those over 12 who are vaccinated to mask up because they will be doing a good neighborly thing by preventing infections in those who are not vaccinated or can’t get vaccinated for various reasons.”

Next, check the quality of your child’s mask, hold it up to the sun. If you can see the light peeking through, that mask does not offer your child the most protection. If it completely blocks the light giving your child the best defense against the virus.

Doctors have seen the Delta variant is strongly impacting kids. For kids under 12 who can’t get vaccinated, doctors believe that masking is the best line of defense to protect our kids from getting sick.

“It limits the transmission because its not going to 100% prevent it, but it will reduce the transmission of the virus,” said Dr. Asare-Bawuah. “Once we stopped masking at the end of May, we have seen a resurgence of RSV infections which we did not see during the winter as well as other viruses. So we are not only preventing COVID transmissions but upper respiratory infections as well.”

Masking is to prevent the spread of the virus and keep kids in seated classes and not go back to virtual learning.

“Studies have shown that virtual learning was not appropriate for most kids and a percentage of kids were behind in school because of the virtual learning,” said Dr. Asare-Bawuah. “So every effort we can make to keep kids in school, we have to make it. Even if it means these kids have to wear a mask or get vaccinated to keep them in school, then that’s what we need to do.”

If your child rides the bus to school, they may be required to wear a mask, even if they are not required to wear one at school. Check with the school district on its policy.

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