When the district returns to in-person learning, adults and students will be expected to wear masks to help control the spread of COVID-19. While this is crucial for the safety of everyone in our buildings, wearing a mask for most of the school day will be an adjustment for kids. To make this transition easier for students, we have compiled some tips to help your student prepare.
For younger students, explain why mask-wearing is important in a simple, not scary way: “We are wearing masks to keep our coughs and sneezes in while we are at school.”
For older students, it may help to have a more in-depth conversation about how wearing a mask will limit the spread of the virus and why the CDC guidelines are in place.
For pre-K and kindergarten students, introduce mask-wearing as part of playtime. Pretend you are going to school or the grocery store and demonstrate that wearing a mask is a normal part of that routine. It is important that students start practicing now so they can build their stamina to be ready to wear the mask throughout the school day.
Encourage your student to wear a mask by framing it as a big kid thing to do.
“I think framing is important for our youngest kids to recognize that wearing a mask is a big kid thing. Only big kids get to go to school so big kids get to wear masks,” explained Stephanie Andrews, Interim Executive Director for Student and Family Support Services.
Give your student a choice between different masks if possible. Finding masks that your student likes makes them more fun to wear. Masks come in all sorts of colors and prints, so let your student pick one that reflects their interests – just as you would with their regular clothing. Just remember that dress codes still apply – masks cannot have anything inappropriate on them – and the masks must be two or more layers.
Before you leave for school, remind students that when they get to school they will put on their mask and wear it all day unless they are playing outside, eating, or in a mask break.
“One of the things I like to tell people is you go to school you wear your pants all day, you wear your shirt all day, so you are going to wear your mask all day,” said Stephanie.
When you arrive at school, review the rules for masks with your student.
- Masks must cover the nose and mouth.
- Masks must be worn any time or place where other people are present, including the bus.
- Masks may be removed at mealtimes, outdoors, and during mask breaks.
Masks fails will happen as students adjust. Prepare how you will respond when this happens.
“Focus on the routine. ‘We wear our mask at school to stay healthy,’” explained Stephanie. “We don’t want to scare people into wearing their masks. The best thing we can do as families is for us to model wearing masks.”
When mistakes happen, keep it positive. Validate their feelings – masks can be hot and itchy – and redirect their attention. Show them how to wear it properly and remind them why it is important. If the consistency is there, it will soon become a normal part of the daily routine, which will help keep everyone safe in the classroom.
“We are so excited to see our students back in schools. We cannot wait,” said Stephanie.
Students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will return on Monday, November 9. Students in grades 1 - 3 will return on Monday, November 16. Students in grades 4, 5, and 6 (at elementary schools only) will return on Monday, November 30. Students in middle, junior high, and high school will continue in distance learning through the end of the calendar year and return to in-person classes on Monday, January 4.
Every student should bring a mask to school, but we will provide masks for students that need them. Click here for more tips about wearing a mask.