BILLINGS — Some parents may be wondering how to help their kids learn to tolerate wearing a mask for long periods of time as students get ready to return to school.
Kathryn Lysinger, MD and pediatrician at Billings Clinic, says masks are the number one form of protection against the virus for kids returning to school.
Lysinger says schools will be asking students and parents to bring their own masks. Schools will be providing masks to students who do not have one or may have forgotten their mask at home.
When picking the right type of mask, Lysinger says it is recommended that students stick to a cloth fabric covering. She says students should opt for one that straps behind either the back of the head or ears.
“I don’t recommend the bandanas. There is some evidence that they are maybe not as protective at keeping all of those droplets, and that is what we are looking for, is maintaining those droplets,” says Lysinger.
Lysinger says one of the more important aspects of wearing a mask is making sure it fits. She says for younger children, it may be necessary to opt for a smaller mask or find a mask with adjustable straps to prevent their mask from slipping off the nose or mouth during the day.
On Aug. 12, Gov. Steve Bullock ordered all Montana public and private school buildings to require face masks, in counties with four or more active Covid-19 cases.
Lysinger says there are some tips and tricks for parents to help encourage their kids to keep their masks on when needed during the school day. She says the first thing parents need to do is start educating their kids on the importance of wearing masks.
Next, kids need to practice wearing their masks now. Lysinger says some parents have incorporated a mask-on-policy at home while watching television.
Lastly, kids should remember to wash their hands before and after removing their masks and avoid touching their faces.
Lysinger says it is important for students to practice wearing their masks often in order to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
“The more we can do decreasing our overall viral load in the community is actually going to help schools stay open,” says Lysinger.