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Children and masks — there are strategies to help kids grow into the new habit, and it starts with the adults.

Classrooms may not look quite the same in the fall. Add masks to your student’s school supply list.

“Just to start talking about it, ‘This is what’s going to happen. This is the way you are going to be able to go back to school.’ And most of the kids are really, really wanting that, socializing with other friends and all that, so we have to explain how that is going to happen, and I think this is the right time to start,” Dr. Rosibell Arcia, Cook County Health pediatrician, said. 

Arcia said build on the conversation over the summer to help kids understand expectations at school, but keep the explanation short and simple.

“You want to make it more direct, ‘We do have to wear the mask.’ And then also make the point ‘we.’ It’s not like you are making the child do it. We are all doing it,” Arcia said.

When it comes to proper wear, there are some dos and don’ts for all ages. Wearing a mask below the nose won’t prevent the spread of droplets, and it won’t protect you from others who may be sick.

“You want to make sure you are covering both your nose and then underneath and your mouth completely,” Arcia said.

And, finally, the Cook County Health pediatrician says, make masks fun. Engage children in the process. Make a face covering as a craft project or let kids decorate their own designs.

“You can look for masks that include characters they like, maybe characters from books, they can use that type of fabric. You can make it personalized, maybe put their initials on it,” Arcia said.

Masks are not recommended for children younger than two years of age and can even be dangerous on infants.