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Drew: How to Safely Wear Face Coverings at School

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

In the midst of the coronavirus COVID-19, school reopening has begun around our state, nation and the world. Even though there has not been a vaccine found, children of all ages are returning to classrooms depending on the model developed and used by their school district.

Many school districts have opted to conduct teaching and student learning in a viral environment. To achieve this, they are equipping students and teachers with the necessary instructional tools and supplies for learning; while some school districts have chosen to conduct learning in person, having students attend classes at school using some social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures. A third option being used by some school districts is a hybrid one which uses a combination of both viral and in person classes. Regardless of the reopening method selected there are some safety measures which must be discussed with your child(ren) about learning in a COVID-19 environment.

It is important to note that a small study was conducted with children under the age of five. It was determined these children can have between 10 to 100 times the amount of the virus in their noses and throats, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics at the first of this month.

It is also noteworthy to share information from the latest finding of a large study from South Korea. This study reported that household transmission of the coronavirus “was high” for patients between 10 and 19 years of age.

Therefore, a household discussion about safety measures while at school, such as wearing a face covering (mask), is essential.  This conversation should be held with all ages without using fear as a tactic. You want them to understand the importance of protecting themselves and other love ones at home. You want them to have a factual (medical) understanding of the virus and its transmission as to avoid them from succumbing to peer pressure.

Below are a few safety measures you may want to implement; you want to include in your discussion the rationale of their importance:
• Have multiple clean cloth masks available, so if one gets dirty, it can be easily replaced while at school.
• Provide your child two usable storage bags. One for the clean masks and  another for any soiled/dirty masks.
• Label your child’s masks.
• Practice the proper way to put on and take off a mask.
• Discuss the proper way to wear a mask, covering both your mouth and nose.
• Remind your child the importance of washing their hands before and after taking off their mask.
• Provide hand sanitizer
• Emphasize the importance of NEVER sharing their mask.
• It is important to model the behavior to your child by wearing your mask.
• Discuss why some children may not wear a mask due to personal medical conditions.

Make sure you Keep an Eye on Safety while your child goes to school during COVID-19.