By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – Medical experts and education leaders agree that masking for kids as young as two years old is required to keep schools and daycares operating as the Delta surge of the coronavirus pandemic continues.

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“We have more cases now with 70% of our population vaccinated than we did this time last year. This is a measure that just makes sense in terms of protecting our children who can’t get vaccinated yet, as well as protecting our larger community,” said Danica Lee the Director of the Public Health Investigations Division for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment.

On Tuesday, Denver and Tri-County Health joined Jefferson County in requiring masks inside schools.

“Spread amongst children can fuel a larger community transmission. And we do know that young children can spread COVID just like older children can,” Lee said. “We’re seeing in some parts of the country, pediatric units filling up, we’re seeing schools and some parts of the country that have come back having to go virtual again.”

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Some parents are concerned with toddlers now being required to wear a mask for several hours each day. It’s something other kids have already adapted to.

“When the centers that never closed started masking the three-year-olds, those teachers were like our pioneers. They actually had ways to teach a three-year-old to wear a mask,” said Lucy Davis, a coach and consultant for Denver’s Early Childhood Council. “I would say the majority of teachers now that have had masked three-year-olds, it is doable. It might take a week for one kid, one day for another, it might take three weeks for another kid. When you train a child young, they don’t know any different, and they’re not traumatized.”

Davis says she works closely with nearly 30 childcare facilities around the city. Some have required masking in young children for over a year to limit spread of the virus. She says, anecdotally, there hasn’t been any learning issues for preschoolers. Davis believes masks and keeping kids together and socializing in school or daycare is better than closures and quarantines.

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“It really hasn’t been a problem. And we won’t know for a long time if there is a developmental issue, but I would say that would be overwritten by the fact that they’ve been they’ve had a degree of normalcy in an abnormal time,” She said.

Jeff Todd