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As children are out in public with their families and are going back to school, it’s important they wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While some children may be too young to fully understand the effect of COVID-19, families should still talk to their children about it to familiarize them with it.
“I think wearing masks is an important way of controlling respiratory problems which is the primary mechanism of the spread of COVID-19,” says Mercy Pediatrician Scott Nau, MD, FAAP. “I think it’ll be fairly easy for children that are older; the younger the child, the harder it is. Having gimmicks, different styles and colors of masks, and themed-based masks may help the younger children be more willing to use them.”
When discussing COVID-19 and masking with children, parents should:
Try not to scare your children with statistics and death tolls. We don’t want children to be afraid, just informed.
Tell your children to come to you with questions, so they don’t search for their answers on the internet. While there is factual information on the internet, you don’t want them to find answers from an unauthorized source.
Communicate with your children daily to listen to their concerns about the virus, especially as they go back to school. We are all adapting our lives through the pandemic, and your children may have questions about why procedures at school have changed.
Buy or make cloth masks you can wash and reuse, so you and your family have a supply of masks to wear when you go to work, they go to school or when you are out in public. Other options of face coverings are face shields.
“It seems pretty clear at this time, wearing a mask decreases the spread of the virus, and if we decrease the school vector part of things then that will help the general population,” says Dr. Nau.
If you or your child are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 — fever, cough, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, or shortness of breath — schedule a video visit or phone call with your doctor. If you do not have a primary care provider, call MercyCare Find-a-Doc at (319) 369-4444 or visit www.mercycare.org/findadoc to learn about your available options.