GREENSBORO, N.C. — As more Triad school districts begin to release their reopening plans for the start of the school year August 17th, you will probably hear the recommendation for students to wear a mask in class.
Masks have become part of this so-called new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic and are required in North Carolina when social distancing is not an option. While Gov. Roy Cooper's Phase 2 order does not require younger children to wear them, schools deciding to reopen for in-person learning have made them a requirement for students heading back to school in August.
Parents started asking us, how do you get your child to put one on and more importantly keep it on? We took your questions to pediatrician, Dr. Brian A. Sumner.
Sumner said you should gear your message based on your child's age. For instance, with younger children including Preschoolers and K-5 students he recommends you let them choose their own mask. That way they're invested and will want to wear it.
"Whether it's super heroes, their favorite color, Frozen of course shows up and it will probably show up forever, you want them to pick it out," said Dr. Sumner, a provider with Carolina Pediatrics of the Triad in Greensboro. "When they pick it out, they will wear it and they're proud. Positive reinforcement is always good too, so complimenting them on their mask is good, getting them to talk about what's on their mask can help as well," said Sumner.
For teenagers, Dr. Sumner suggests you talk with them about COVID-19 and explain what's at risk if they don't cover their face.
"Teenagers want life to get back to at least close to normal and the one thing in their control right now is to wear their masks," he said.
You might also want to think about this. While it's important to get your children to wear a mask, Dr. Sumner says it is just as important to teach them the proper way to take one off.
"One thing I do want parents to do is to teach children how to take off their masks and get their hands clean. So when they take off their mask go to hand washing or at least having a hand sanitizer around is big. Unfortunately, we see far to many people taking off their masks and going straight to their face," he said.
Dr. Sumner says wearing a mask is not convenient or ideal but it's what we need to do right now in order to stop the spread of the virus.