FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CHILDREN WEARING MASKS
At Children’s International Medical Group, we strive to give the very best care to all of the patients we are entrusted with. During this unprecedented time in our nation’s history, schools are also doing their best to care for the students they are entrusted with educating. Throughout all of the regions that we serve, the schools have created various policies requiring students to wear face masks/face coverings while at school. Different schools have variations on their policies, but the basic tenant is that students over a certain age/grade are required to wear these face coverings at least part of the day. These policies have been created not only to protect the individual students, but also the other students and the teachers and staff at the schools. When worn correctly, a face mask not only serves to protect the individual wearing it, but also those around them. It is integral to the success of this plan that as many people as possible are wearing masks to ensure the utmost protection of those present at school.
We understand that this may seem to be a difficult task for some children. However, research by health professionals is finding that children are very resilient and actually much better at wearing masks than initially predicted. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that cloth face coverings can be safely worn by all children 2 years of age and older, including the vast majority of children with underlying health conditions, with rare exception1.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has summarized some common questions about this topic:
Can wearing a mask make it harder for my child to breathe?
There have been concerns that cloth face coverings can reduce oxygen intake, and can lead to low blood oxygen levels, known as hypoxemia. However, cloth masks are made from breathable materials that will not block the oxygen your child needs. Masks will not affect your child’s ability to focus or learn in school. The vast majority of children age 2 or older can safely wear a cloth face covering for extended periods of time, such as the school day or at child care. This includes children with many medical conditions.
Can masks interfere with a child’s lung development?
No, wearing a cloth face covering will not affect your child’s lungs from developing normally. This is because oxygen flows through and around the mask, while blocking the spray of spit and respiratory droplets that may contain the virus. Keeping your child’s lungs healthy is important, which includes preventing infections like COVID-19.
Do masks trap the carbon dioxide that we normally breathe out?
No. There have been false reports that cloth face coverings can lead to carbon dioxide poisoning (known as hypercapnia) from re-breathing the air we normally breathe out. But this is not true. Carbon dioxide molecules are very tiny, even smaller than respiratory droplets. They cannot be trapped by breathable materials like cloth masks. In fact, surgeons wear tight fitting masks all day as part of their jobs, without any harm.
Can masks lead to a weaker immune system by putting the body under stress?
No. Wearing a cloth face covering does not weaken your immune system or increase your chances of getting sick if exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Wearing a cloth face covering, even if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, helps prevent the virus from spreading.
How do masks prevent the spread of COVID-19?
When worn correctly, cloth masks create a barrier that reduces the spray of a person’s spit and respiratory droplets. These droplets play a key role in the spread of COVID-19 because they can carry SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Masks also can protect you from others who may have coronavirus but are not showing symptoms and who could come within 6 feet of you, which is how far respiratory droplets can travel when people sneeze or cough or raise their voices.
We recognize the importance of parents’ concerns about this new policy for children, and we welcome their questions and input as well as their right to request an exemption to the face mask policy. Many parents of children with medical problems or special healthcare needs are also concerned about how wearing a mask may affect their children. Children with underlying medical conditions- especially chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma- are especially at risk for complications associated with coronavirus infection, and should be encouraged to wear face masks when not able to socially distance.
If you feel your child has a medical reason to be excused from the school’s face mask policy, we would be happy to review and discuss your request. Please fill out the form on the next page and we will be happy to consider your request.