As states start to consider a gradual reopening amid on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, parents are understandably concerned for the safety of their children. And as parents return to work, some aspects of everyday life are going to be different. For instance, new guidelines in Missouri recommend that children over 2 years old should wear face masks at daycare centers in the state.
Childcare centers in the state are currently open, although with certain limitations. The state of Missouri has asked that parents keep their children home when they're able to, but if they do need to send them to daycare they should consider sending children from the age of 2 and older with face masks "whenever possible." Employees are also asked to wear face masks "at all times" and practice social distancing, as well as going through regular screenings to ensure they have not been infected with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Although trying to keep a face mask on a squirmy toddler might be more difficult than medical experts realize, especially for childcare providers who are potentially dealing with an extraordinary amount of work, the state's recommendation of children wearing face masks in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC states that "children 2 years and older should wear a cloth face covering their nose and mouth when in a community setting." There are other recommendations as well from the CDC, such as limiting time with older adults, practicing good hand-washing hygiene, and social distancing.
According to the CDC, wearing a face mask is important to stop the spread of COVID-19. It does not protect the wearer from contracting the respiratory infection, rather it helps prevent them from spreading it to others, which is vitally important as some medical professionals believe children are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers.
"Kids are much more likely to be asymptotic carriers or presymptomatic carriers, so ... we do a lot of good when we say, 'Hey, in addition to washing your hands, and please stop licking things, we'd also like you to wear a mask," family physician Dr. Deborah Gilboa explained to TODAY Parents. "We really want to slow and stop the spread of this, and we're seeing in data from other countries that kids are actively involved, entirely accidentally, in spreading this."
Adults can help to encourage little ones to wear face masks by getting creative, maybe finding a mask or making one with a favorite character on it. If children see the people around them wearing masks it might also make it easier for them.
It's a difficult thing to explain to kids, but encouraging them to wear face masks at home is going to make it a lot easier for childcare workers.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.