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Whether you’ve decided to keep your child at home or not, thousands of South African children will be returning to school at the beginning of June 2020. So what are the rules regarding the wearing of face masks? What are your concerns? Read on to find some answers to your questions

school kids wearing masks

Credit: https://www.romper.com/p/what-will-schools-look-like-after-coronavirus-15-photos-offer-a-peek/

Face mask wearing rules for back-to-school:

  • Every learner, staff member and teacher must wear a face mask at all times. 
  • Children are expected to wear the face mask during lessons, during break times and until they leave school or arrive home.
  • Face masks need to be washed every day (if they are washable) or if they are recyclable, they must be discarded safely. It’s a  good idea to have 2 masks to use alternately.
  • The wearing of face masks is not an alternative to social distancing; it is a requirement as part of social distancing.
  • Important to note that the wearing of a masks only works together with proper hygiene such as regular hand washing and sanitisation.

Q & A about face masks for kids

Do children need to wear face masks all the time?

  • Short answer, yes, to reduce the risk of infection, the mask needs to be on all the time.

Is it dangerous for children to wear face masks continuously?

  • There is NO evidence to prove that using a face mask over a long period of time causes health issues.
  • Surgeons and scientists do it all the time
  • Several Asian countries have made face mask wearing obligatory due to the SARS pandemic and pollution for quite a while now and it seems to be working.
  • Some concerns are that kids do not receive enough fresh air, the stale air inhaled is bad for their health and could cause further health issues.  To address this parents can suggest that the school allow kids to remove masks under strict supervision at a certain time of the day when they are outside and far apart from each other.

Wearing a face mask: Tips for Getting Young Kids to Wear Face Masks:

  • Model It! Make it familiar by wearing a mask too.
  • While wearing masks, look in the mirror and talk about it with them.
  • Play! Put a mask on their favourite stuffed animal or doll
  • Decorate the mask by colouring it or using stickers of their favourite Disney character.
  • Look at pictures of other kids wearing masks.
  • Draw masks onto pictures of their favourite characters: superheroes, cartoon characters, athletes, toys …
  • Use positive reinforcement when they wear a mask. Use praise or small rewards.
  • Be patient. Young children are looking for ways to be independent and may not want to leave their mask on.
  • Practice putting the mask on at home a few times and keep it on for a while to get used to it.
  • Explain why it is important not to fiddle with the mask.

 Make sure it fits!

  • The fit of the mask is just as, and if not more, important than the material of the mask. You want a snug and comfortable fit so that the kid isn’t constantly readjusting it and touching their face. The biggest risk of transmission is through touching the mask
  • Tell them how important hand washing and sanitising is before putting the mask on, touching the elastics or strings only.
  • Pull the mask on to fit over the nose and below the chin. This should make it more comfortable to wear.

How do I talk to my child about COVID-/19

Here are 2  x wonderful  comics you can use to tell your child the story of the virus and how it works. ( Sadly there is no information about face masks)

Just for Kids. A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus

My Hero is You, a Storybook for Children on COVID19

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/comis-cartoons-children-deveolpment-coronavirus-covid19/

References

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