Returning to school after winter break can be chaotic—and with the Omicron types on the rise, many parents are wondering how to best protect their kids. First, if your child is eligible to be vaccinated, do it as the pros say. You should also make sure that your child wears a mask, and wears it correctly: says Dr., chief of the pediatric hospital at Tufts Children’s Hospital. A baby mask should cover the mouth and nose and fit snugly with the face, says Daniel Rauch.
The kind of mask you choose also matters. Recent studies suggest that cloth masks are less effective than previously thought with the Omicron version. So Rauch notes that you can double the mask with a cloth and disposable mask, which will “improve protection.” And consider the N95, K95 and KF94 masks that are made specifically for kids, say the pros. “N95 masks are the most protective mask model currently available,” says Dr. Serhat Gumrukku, infectious disease specialist and scientific researcher at the Seraph Research Institute. That said, “KN95 and KF94 masks come very close to the level of filtration found in N95 masks,” Dr. Jim Sears, board-certified pediatrician, former host and co-author of “The Doctors.” baby book, Here are some masks that pros and review sites recommend.
Powercom KN95-SM Child-Size Respirator Mask
Starting at $0.57 per mask
Vida Kids Mask with KN95 Protection
Starting at $1.70 per mask
WeCare Disposable Face Mask for Kids
Starting at $0.40 per mask
Enro Reusable Face Mask
From $16.50 per mask
“If the mask is made of fabric it should have several layers of tightly woven breathable fabric and nose wire. When held up to a light source the fabric should block light and have no valves or openings and should not be a single layer or thin enough to allow light in easily,” Rauch says.
Note that face masks can be safely worn by all children age 2 and older, including most children with underlying health conditions, with rare exceptions, Rauch says. “Children aged 2 years and above have demonstrated their ability to wear face masks. In addition to protecting the child, the use of face masks significantly reduces the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections in schools and other community settings,” Rauch says.