Kids and masks: What parents need to know before school starts

Most school districts requiring masks
Posted at 8:29 AM, Jul 27, 2020

PAPILLION, Neb. — Even though each school district's plan for reopening is fluid, one thing seems pretty common across the board. Students will be required to wear masks for in-class learning.

"We are requiring masks for all students and staff and anyone that comes into the building or comes on to school property," Papillion-La Vista Schools spokesperson Annette Eymen said. "The health experts throughout the country and also in the state of Nebraska, all of them are recommending that kids wear masks at schools."

Most major school districts are requiring masks including Papillion-La Vista, Omaha Public Schools, Millard Public Schools, Westside Community Schools and Bellevue Public Schools.

Kristine Aitmassoud's two sons Adam and Aydin will be attending Two Springs Elementary in Bellevue. She knows masks are required, so she wanted to make a few that she knew her kids would like.

"I've made some masks that I'm pretty comfortable with and the kids are comfortable wearing as well," Aitmassoud said.

Children's pediatrician and head of the Nebraska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Melissa St. Germain, says every parent should be buying or making masks right now, and prepping their children to get used to how they feel.

"We ask to them to wear seat belts and brush their teeth and put on shoes, two year-old's don't always like to do that either. But with practice and repeated reinforcement they generally do pretty well," Dr. St. Germain said.

Most children will do just fine breathing in the masks. The material is thin enough where it shouldn't be a problem for everyday wear for kids over the age of two.

"It may feel like it's harder to take air in and out but oxygen and carbon dioxide are going through that mask just fine," Dr. St Germain added.

For those that are hard of hearing, a clear mask or face shield are recommended. Papillion-La Vista schools have already ordered a batch for all teachers and some students who need them.

"So we're putting plans in place to accommodate all students," Eymen said.

Most schools districts have stated there will be some sort of mask breaks throughout the day and there are exceptions to who has to wear them. But most students will have to and may face some sort of disciplinary action if they don't.

"So a student that refuses to wear a mask it would be treated under our disciplinary code just like any other school rule violation would be treated," Eymen said.

Each district is making the decision that they best see fit for them and most are lenient given how quickly things change with the virus.

"I know parents are anxious about sending their kids back to school and there are a lot of questions, but if you reinforce to your child that it's going to be okay, there's going to be changes and they're important and they're necessary and we're going to get through this. That goes a long way," Dr. St Germain said.

There is no mask mandate in Douglas County at this time, so the decision to wear masks lies within each school district. Papillion- La Vista schools will be hosting a Facebook live Tuesday for parents to ask any questions they may have.

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