DENVER (CBS4) – Even though the weather is warm, experts who work with young students say this is the time to begin training kids to wear face masks for long periods.
Mask use won’t be the only thing that changes in schools this year. Local schools planning to reopen including Denver Public Schools and JeffCo Public Schools will be screening for fevers, limiting shared equipment and asking students to maintain proper physical distancing. Of course, the struggle is real for younger students to keep their mask on. Nurses at Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital have seen this daily. Associate Chief of Nursing Laura-Anne Cleveland told CBS4 that it’s hard even for teens, but the recommendation is to have them wearing masks now so they feel more comfortable later.
“It gets to the point where you’ll see the more you practice at home — where it doesn’t matter where they mess-up, take it off, things like that — the more they get comfortable with having something on their face. You’ll see that they’re not adjusting it tons of times. Really you don’t want to nag them, but just like, ‘Do you see your nose?’ and make it a fun thing. It’s like Pinnochio — it’s just growing out of your mask,” Cleveland said.
But she says even the older students have a hard time, with some worried that the masks may make them look uncool, or even cause them to break out.
“The other thing is, really start small in incremental time, and building as they see fit, as they’re tolerating it, rewarding that time that they have the masks on, and really doing fun things with the masks. If it’s a paper mask they can use stickers. If it’s fabric, they can use fabric paint on the outside. Find fabrics that are fun, you can even have wings off of them if you want to be an angel or something like that, it can be interactive with being a superhero and something they enjoy wearing,” she added.
She also warns parents to be mindful of kids with special needs to try out the masks that make them feel most comfortable.
And lastly, she recommends for parents to have a discussion with children to make sure they understand that if they need to take the mask off for a breather, that they are away from people.