WEIS Radio | Local and regional news, sports and weather “Children don’t need N95, KN95 masks at school amid COVID-19 outbreak, experts say
(NEW YORK) – As the number of pediatric cases of COVID-19 continues to rise in the United States, parents are adding face masks to the top of their back-to-school shopping lists.
For the 2021-2022 school year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all students aged 2 and over wear face masks indoors, regardless of their immunization status.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of nearly 70,000 pediatricians, also called on schools to enforce universal masking mandates.
Dr. Allison Bartlett, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Medicine of Chicago, is the mother of three sons who are all under the age of 12 and therefore cannot yet be vaccinated. Bartlett said her sons will attend in-person school in the fall and wear face masks.
“The whole of the COVID pandemic has changed with the delta variant and the very high levels of spread,” Bartlett told ABC’s Hello america, explaining the increased urgency of wearing a mask. “It’s true that most children don’t get sick, but most children don’t all get sick. “
“I hope parents understand that no child likes to wear masks, but the children I have interacted with fully understand why they are doing this, that they are doing this to protect others,” he said. she declared. “It’s teamwork and everyone must contribute.
With unvaccinated children at risk, parents wonder what types of face masks will keep their children and those around them the most safe.
GMA spoke with Bartlett to Dr Richard Malley, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr Edith Bracho-Sanchez, pediatrician at Columbia University, to explain what parents need to know.
1. Children do not need N95, KN95 masks.
The three experts agreed that while the N95 and KN95 masks, the types of masks often used in hospitals, offer the best protection, they are not designed or necessary for use by children.
“N95 masks on a child may not fit and although they do, they are not as comfortable,” said Malley. “We don’t want to recommend masks that kids aren’t ready to wear. “
Malley and Bartlett also pointed out that the N95 and KN95 masks do not work if they do not fit properly, which is why the medical staff who wear them undergo intense fitting procedures to ensure they are secure.
“Absolutely, an N95 fitted to you offers the best protection. This is true in a healthcare setting, but not relevant for children and schools, ”Bartlett said. “They don’t really make kids’ N95s and unless you’ve passed the fit tests it doesn’t really offer any additional protection.”
2. The mask your child will wear is the best mask.
All three experts also agreed that the face mask your child is ready to wear inside school is the best mask for them, whether it is surgical, cloth, or disposable.
“It all comes down to if they don’t wear it, no matter how good the mask is,” Bartlett said, adding as an example: “A well-fitting cloth mask works much better than an ill-fitting mask. fitted surgical mask.
Malley suggests letting a child choose their own masks can motivate them to wear them and help them feel a part of the solution.
“Everyone recognizes that [mask wearing] is a disadvantage for the children, so one way to help the process is to let the child choose, ”he said. “Go online or go to the store and ask the child to choose the mask they are going to wear.”
3. Parents and children should regularly check the fit of the mask.
For a mask to be effective, it must fit over the nose and cover under the chin, according to Malley.
“You want something that covers their nose and mouth and when they talk or laugh, the mask doesn’t fall off their face,” he said. “You want the jaw to be able to move. “
The face mask should also be flat against the skin, according to Bartlett.
“In my experience, sometimes surgical masks tend to open up more to the side because they’re rectangular,” she said. “And sometimes, sheet masks work better because they fit better and are softer or more comfortable to fit on the face.”
Both experts also noted that it was perfectly acceptable for children to use clips or bands to relieve pressure on their ears when wearing a mask.
4. Face masks can be worn by children again.
“As long as your mask is a good fit, as long as the mask is taut, and you have a good fit at the top and bottom, you can continue to wash and wear it,” Bracho-Sanchez said.
5. A sun test can help verify the quality of your child’s face mask.
One technique for checking the quality of your child’s mask is to hold the mask in the sun. If you can see the light through the mask when you hold it stretched out, it is not thick enough.
6. Children will not get sick while wearing face masks.
Concerns about children’s inability to breathe when wearing face masks or the risk of illness from germs in their masks are not based on science, Bartlett said.
“There is no risk for children of CO2 [carbon dioxide] retention or not having enough oxygen, ”she said. “There is no medical problem in covering your face with a mask like this. “
When it comes to germs, Bartlett said the masks keep foreign pathogens out, so the only germs kids might have in their masks are the same germs in their bodies.
She suggested, however, that parents send their children to school with clean, spare masks so that they have one on hand if, for example, they sneeze into the mask.
“Send the kids to school with a few masks and at home wash the masks regularly and have a constant supply of masks on hand,” Bartlett said.
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