Both the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that children over the age of 2 must wear a mask inside the school.
Dr Anne Liu of Stanford Children’s Health suggested that the best kind of mask for your kid is, “a mask that they can keep on.”
She also ranked the masks according to their effectiveness:
1: N95/KN95 mask OR a cloth and surgical mask together
2: Single surgical mask
3: Single cloth mask
However, Linsey Marr, an environmental engineer at Virginia Tech, tested face masks in her lab and the result showed that N95s are not made to fit kids.
She said in her report, “N95s do not come in kid sizes, so I do not recommend N95s for kids.”
Marr recommended parents that they need to consider the attributes masks in this order of priority:
“If your kid won’t wear it, it’s not helping at all,” she said.
“Leaks around the sides are like having a hole in your mask and aerosols carrying the virus can get right through,” Marr said.
How well the mask blocks small particles.
The World Health Organization says children under the age of five do not normally need to wear a mask.
WHO and UNICEF advise that the decision to use masks for children aged 6-11 should be based on the following factors:
- Whether there is widespread transmission in the area where the child resides
- The ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask
- Access to masks, as well as laundering and replacement of masks in certain settings (such as schools and childcare services)
- Adequate adult supervision and instructions to the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks
- The potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers
- Specific settings and interactions the child has with other people who are at high risk of developing a serious illness, such as the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions
WHO and UNICEF advise that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.
Here are the basics of how to wear a mask:
- Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
- Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth and chin.
- When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.
- Don’t use masks with valves.
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