The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced countless changes since March. Absent of a vaccine, and with the start of the school year just weeks away, parents everywhere are wrestling with the fact that the return to the classroom is going to look very different this fall.
It will certainly take children time to adjust to what they are used to. This school year will physically separate their desks apart from their friends and teachers and require them to sit behind plexiglass barriers with frequent hand-washing breaks throughout the day.
One of the more controversial topics in this new normal among parents is how they can they help acclimate their child to wear a mask during the school day?
There is no getting around this, parents. Fact: New guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education has recently mandated that face coverings are required for all students at all times inside school buildings unless doing so would inhibit the student’s health.
Many school districts are taking this guidance a step further by asking parents now to help their children build their mask endurance.
Here are some helpful tips that parents can use to mask train their children before the first day of school.
Show Your Child Why Wearing a Mask In School Is Important
A great way to help your child with mask endurance is to show them why it is so important to begin with. Perhaps find a kid-friendly coloring page, video or infographic of how the virus is spread. Chances are your child might be more on board with doing their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when they understand on their terms why they are doing so in the first place.
Involve Them In Choosing a Mask
A great way to get your child used to wearing a mask, is to involve them in the process of picking one out a kid-friendly one of their own. Nearly every major retail and convenience store is now selling cloth or paper masks in both adult and child sizes. One helpful tip may be to have your child choose a different color mask for each school day. Now is the perfect time to shop online with your child. Have them pick out a design or color they like. There are so many different kinds of masks with different logos on them from Disney to Marvel to the MLB.
If you have younger school-aged children, you might want to play with them while wearing a mask yourself but also by placing a mask on their favorite doll, stuffed animal, or superhero. Through this play, you are reinforcing the message that now everyone – even their most precious toys – are doing their part to keep COVID-19 away. There are also plenty of story books out there to read with your child which model good mask endurance and behavior.
Practice Makes Progress
To ramp up your child’s mask endurance think about times throughout your day where you might ask them to practice wearing their mask. Perhaps they might practice wearing one of the masks they picked out on their own while watching a television show, while doing their summer homework or even when they use an iPad. By having your child practice wearing their mask for longer stretches, you are doing your part to ensure a smoother school day for them once school begins.
By modeling appropriate COVID-19 necessary with behaviors like mask wearing, parents are doing their part to help slow the COVID-19 spread and help their children navigate this most unusual 2020-21 school year ahead.