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Are masks safe for kids to wear to school?

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There’s a lot of misinformation going around about kids and masks.

Health experts want parents to know that masks do not impact a child’s ability to breath. They do help protect them from viruses, such as COVID, that are spread through the air.

“The point is that it's a breathable mask,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, a pediatrician with UW Medicine. “We all wear these in the hospital all day long to protect ourselves.”

Masks – whether cloth, K-95 masks, or surgical masks – “do not interfere with a kid's breathing,” she said. “There are no “negative health consequences from wearing these masks.”

Clearly, wearing a mask is not normal, but being in school is critically important for children’s mental and emotional health.

“So, this is a way to protect your kid and to help us get back to our regular lives, regular school, which we know is so critical for kids,” Dr. Ebel told me. “We want the best for our kids. We want them back in school. So, let's put those masks on so that we can do that safely.”

How to talk to your kids about wearing a mask to school

Going to school this year means wearing a mask. It’s important to explain to your kids that this is being done to protect them, their teachers and everyone they come in contact with. Most kids should be fine with wearing a mask, Dr. Ebel said.

“I feel like kids can understand this,” she said. “Maybe involve them in picking it out, so it's a mask they like and is fun. But when all of their friends are wearing one, they'll be happy to wear one, too."

Dr. Ebel advises parents to make sure their kids know the proper way to wear their masks.

"They just need to understand it has to be on their nose, so a bendable nose clip can help,” Dr. Ebel said. And they need to keep it on for the whole day, including when you go to the bathroom. The only time that those masks are going to be off is lunch time.”

During lunch, teachers will try to keep kids separated as much as possible, and school administrators know to make sure there’s fresh air coming in.

More Info:

Mayo Clinic: Benefits of kids wearing masks in school

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From Toddlers to Teens: How to Talk to Kids About Wearing Masks

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