Considerations for Face Coverings
Healthy Children During COVID-19
The Importance of Face Coverings
Keeping our children healthy is our number one priority. However, COVID-19 presents new challenges for families and educators. Many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms. Face coverings reduce the risk of spreading or catching the virus through breathing or coughing. If we help children adjust to wearing face coverings now, it will become a healthy habit that can keep them safe as they return to school in the fall.
The CDC recommends that children above the age of two wear face masks when social distancing is not possible. There are many situations where it is difficult for children to stay 6 feet away from others, such as school or at the doctor's office. For more information on when and how to wear masks, as well as tips for children with special needs, read this article from Healthy Children: Cloth Face Coverings for Children During COVID-19. En español
Equity Considerations: Why some families & children don't wear masks
Some families and children may not be able to wear masks due to safety, identity, health or religious reasons. Please be understanding and talk to your children about some of the reasons families opt out of wearing masks.
- People of various religions wear head coverings, which can be difficult to wear along with additional face coverings.
- Some historically marginalized populations, such as our Black or Hispanic families, may fear that wearing masks could make them or their children a target of racism or violence.
- Students with health issues or disabilities may experience anxiety or difficulty breathing, seeing, hearing, reading lips or adjusting to wearing a mask.
Helping Children Adjust to Face Coverings
Some children may initially be uncomfortable wearing and seeing others in face coverings. However, most kids will adjust when adults are there to support them. Here are some tips.
The Kids Health Article Coronavirus (COVID-19): Helping Kids Get Used to Masks suggests:
- Use simple words to explain why people are wearing masks.
- Give kids time to look, watch, and get used to what's new.
- Answer kids' questions.
- Some toddlers and young children may feel uneasy about masks. They may need extra support and comfort from parents. Parents also can help kids understand why they might need to wear a mask, and make them more comfortable and even fun to wear.
In addition, adults can read stories about face coverings and model how to wear them. Take a look at a few great resources below that can help you have this conversation with children.
For additional social stories on social distancing, masks & coping strategies, visit Social stories from Autism Little Learners.
Wearing Masks and Your Child's Emotions
- Introduce the face mask to children in a familiar place, such as your home, before bringing them into the world of covered faces. Trying new things within the comfort and safety of your family offers children the opportunity to step outside their normal routines.
- Let your child see the mask, and then put it on your face. Explain to your child that you will be wearing the mask when you’re out and about, and that other people will be wearing them too. Helping your child to anticipate future events offers security and eases anxiety.
- Play peek-a-boo: Cover your mouth and then take the mask away to reveal a smile. Do this several times. Explain to your child that you’ll be smiling even though your face isn’t visible.
- Play “guess my expression”: Ask your child to watch your eyes and eyebrows. Try to make them as expressive as your mouth (think about the term “smiling eyes”). Ask your child to guess how you’re feeling from the expression of your eyes and eyebrows. You can also reveal how the expression in the eyes matches your mouth by taking off your face mask.
- Talk to your child through your mask. The mask will muffle your voice so it’s helpful to find a speaking volume that your child can hear.
General COVID-19 Information
Click here for facts sheets, posters, and resources for your school/classroom.
If you have a child under 19, you may qualify for health and dental care through MIChild. Click here to find out more! Arabic & Spanish translation available.