As businesses and restaurants begin reopening around the country, the most common measure to protect against COVID-19 is to wear a face mask while in public. In many states, this practice is not just recommended, but now required.
That’s because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, face masks can help prevent the transmission of respiratory droplets from an infected person to those nearby.
But as 2020 becomes the year of the face mask, it begs the question—should kids wear face coverings?
The answer? Well, it depends.
The CDC recommends people over the age of 2 should wear a mask in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain — places like the grocery store, restaurants, or gas stations.
Due to the risk of suffocation, the CDC says no child under the age of 2 should wear a mask, as well as any person who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
It’s important to note that wearing a face mask is a “voluntary public health measure,” meaning, it’s for the good of others. Experts say that a cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.
In places like Virginia, where face masks are now a requirement in public, Gov. Ralph Northam has specified that all people over the age of 10 should wear a cloth face covering. In Maryland, it’s anyone over the age of 9, and in much of California, it’s anyone over the age of 12.
Still, experts suggest complying with CDC guidance first, then looking to local and state recommendations. And with all of the information floating around social media, it’s important to always cross-check with either the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or your own physician before taking information at face value.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children do not need to wear masks if they’re playing in their own yard alone or with siblings, and on outdoor walks where they can be six feet apart from others.
The reality is that getting kids to wear a mask, avoid touching their face and other objects or surfaces, and practice social distancing while in public is easier said than done. As your family transitions to this new normal of wearing face masks, experts offer a few tips for getting kids accustomed to the new standard.
- Decorate it/choose fun prints
- Put face covering on stuffed animal
- Practice wearing and looking in the mirror
- Draw face masks on book characters or coloring pages
As states reopen and preventative procedures continue to change, it’s important to remember that face masks protect others, while hand washing protects us. Stay vigilant, stay safe, and remember, we’re all in this together.