Masking During Covid

Parent Q&A

When can we expect masking to end for preschoolers? Oct 18, 2021 (24 responses below)
Pre K with masks and testing? Oct 2, 2021 (6 responses below)
Masks that fit a toddler? Aug 19, 2021 (14 responses below)
Daycare not requiring teachers or students 2+ to be masked Aug 16, 2021 (6 responses below)
No Masking at Preschool Aug 10, 2021 (12 responses below)
Trouble finding masks for petite teen Mar 8, 2021 (10 responses below)
Masks at playgrounds Nov 23, 2020 (12 responses below)
Preschools in Oak/Berk for 4yr olds that require masks? Sep 19, 2020 (5 responses below)
Masks at Daycare? Jun 24, 2020 (13 responses below)
Do you say something when someone is not wearing a mask? Jun 1, 2020 (13 responses below)
  • I'm a liberal, pro-science, law-abiding person and I have no interest in allying myself with right-wing crazies. But I'm wondering what we as a community are thinking about masking toddlers, with little data to support the practice, significant harms, and no end in sight. 

    There are a number of reasons that masks are harmful to preschool-age children:

    --they inhibit social and emotional growth;

    --they inhibit language development;

    --they irritate the skin;

    --they are often unsanitary in toddler populations;

    --they promote mouth breathing which impairs proper facial development.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against children under 5 wearing masks as a preventative measure. Accordingly, masks are not recommended for children under 5 in the UK and most countries in the EU (France, Italy, Spain, etc.).

    In the US, CDC recommends masks are worn *indoors* for ages 2 and older at childcare facilities. Meanwhile it seems to be the norm around the Bay Area that preschools are requiring masks both indoors and outdoors for ages 2 and over -- this is total masking for toddlers upwards of 40 hours a week for full-time care. Several Bay Area counties including Alameda have criteria for lifting indoor mask requirements for adults (three weeks in CDC moderate tier of caseloads; vaccination thresholds); Marin and SF are already lifting requirements. But childcare settings are an exception to to this lifting, so as far as I can tell there's no reprieve in sight for preschoolers.

    Is there some specific benchmark that we are waiting for in California, the US, or as a community before the masking requirement is reduced or lifted for toddlers? Because my patience, as a parent of a three-year old who wears a mask at preschool for 40 hours a week, is wearing thin. FDA vaccine approval for this population, unlike for 5-12 year olds, is very far off (January would be the earliest but that is highly speculative). Meanwhile, there's literally no data to support that masks are effective at reducing transmission in the age 2-4 population. The data shows that COVID is a very minimal risk for children -- a *unvaccinated child* has about as much risk of getting or spreading COVID as a vaccinated 40 year old, if not less (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/12/briefing/covid-age-risk-infection-vac...).

    As a parent, I feel the strong need to advocate for preschool children's interests here as they are not able to advocate for themselves. Indeed, children do get used to wearing masks, but that is not a sufficient justification for a potentially harmful practice -- children can get used to almost anything, including several forms of abuse.

    Do others here share my concern?
     

    Yes, yes, yes! What are the benchmarks for this changing? The problem is that there are none. 

    I completely agree. Our preschool encourages but does not force masks for toddlers. I send a mask to school with my 2.5 year old but don’t expect her to wear it all day (and she doesn’t!). Would love to see this requirement lifted but it’s up to our politicians. 

    Thank you for stating this.  I am heartbroken by all the harms caused by masking toddlers (the only country in the world who actually does this), as well as the gaslighting that inevitably comes from certain people when you bring it up.  The fact of the matter is that I, as a healthy but almost 40 year old vaccinated adult, am at higher risk of getting covid and having adverse effects than my unvaxxed toddler child.  Additionally, the idea that cloth masks actually do anything in disease prevention (relative to the vaccine), particularly when worn the way toddlers wear them, is absolutely without logic or reason. I support everything you have said, and share your concerns.  However, I am pessimistic about positive change happening here, other than the tide of public opinion in california magically shifting, which I don't see happening unfortunately.

  • Pre K with masks and testing?

    (6 replies)

    Are there any preschools with openings that require the kids and teachers to wear masks and also do surveillance testing of the kids and staff? I’ve found only one school that meets this criteria and they’re full.

    Moderator Note: see also previous discussions about this: Masking During Covid ... Preschool during Covid

    Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) has mandatory masking + weekly testing for all students/staff/teachers including for pre-k classes. Not sure if they have openings but definitely work asking. EBI wrote its own pandemic response plan that includes these issues and addresses many other layers of prevention (ventilation, etc).

    Hello. Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, a French-American school with a preschool-8th grade program, has very strong covid protocols and requires masking for all students and regular testing for students and staff.  I do not know if they have current openings but we've been very impressed by their approach to covid safety. We've also loved having our kids in an immersion program.  

    Hearts leap north requires testing of the teachers and the surveillance testing is optional for kids, but I think all or most have opted in. The parents and teachers are 100% vaccinated and they require masks. It's the most wonderful preschool imaginable! 

  • Masks that fit a toddler?

    (14 replies)

    Hi BPN,

    We are having trouble finding a face mask that fits our 2 year old. What have you all found that works? We're willing to use either cloth or disposable.

    Thanks!

    RE: Masks that fit a toddler? ()

    We really like the masks from Oso and Me (ordered online) although we added ear toggles which we ordered separately on Amazon. They have been the only ones which stayed above my daughter's nose without covering her eyes. They have a little pleat which helps with keeping them in place.

    RE: Masks that fit a toddler? ()

    We've been getting masks from https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaPetiteSews since the pandemic started. The 3D design is comfortable for a toddler (size small) and they hold up well with regular washing (elastic wears out a bit but you can just tie it tighter or replace it). Masks we've (sadly) been using for 18 months are still in good condition. 

    RE: Masks that fit a toddler? ()

    I had the same issue for a while (in addition to my 2yo tearing off masks after 15 minutes). I have found that Happy Masks https://www.happymasks.com/collections/pro stay on, and she has worn it for more than an hour, so far, without tearing it off. The only issue is that while once they were easily available a month ago - with school starting and delta rampaging - the masks have been sold out and purchasing is based on a waitlist. So if you're not in a rush, get yourself on the waitlist, they allow 5 mask purchases per order right now: https://www.happymasks.com/pages/waitlist. Sounds ridiculous, but may be worth it. This is literally the only mask my 2yo will keep on. Good luck!

  • Hi BPN community! I could use some advice. Our small daycare is not requiring teachers or kids 2+ to be masked since CA’s “reopening” in June. Since the delta surge, I’ve expressed my concern and to the daycare director and asked that they revisit this policy, shared data and resources, and tried to understand her perspective. 
    The director feels the other precautions they’re taking are enough: she implied all teachers are vaccinated but couldn’t confirm for employee privacy reasons, parents don’t bring kids with any symptoms without a negative Covid test or dr note, the kids are outside a lot, they have air purifiers… but the fact that they essentially will not even have teachers wear masks is alarming. This school is otherwise highly recommended and we respected the director and practices before this issue. I get that small daycares often take time to implement new policies but at this point, it seems she’s willfully ignoring science and licensing requirements. The daycare has not had any Covid cases and most parents seem to take Covid precautions seriously but I don’t know them well.

    I really don’t want to take my kid out of our daycare (and I’m not sure we could even find an opening at an alternate, and we can’t afford a nanny share), but it seems like we may have to move in that direction. Any advice or other things to consider, fellow parents? We can’t not have childcare again. Would sending our kid masked while waiting to get off a safer daycare’s waitlist be something you’d consider? Thank you!

    [Moderator note: There is a similar question from a week ago - see No Masking at Preschool]

     If your kid is old enough for preschool, you might try enrolling them somewhere with openings that has covid policies more in line with your own priorities and the CDC recommendations. Preschools seem to tend to be less pricey than daycares and nanny shares. It’s late in the year to apply and enroll, but some places will still have spots. Looking for an outdoor-only place is another option, and one that we have chosen for our son for preschool.  Good luck! This is a stressful time for everyone 🍀 

    Whoa.  No masks on the teachers?  That would be a hard no for me.  That is just a nightmare waiting to happen with Delta.  Our friend's 1yo got very ill from COVID she caught at daycare about 2 weeks ago.  She had about a week of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, cough and then developed pneumonia and spent multiple nights in the ER with difficulty breathing.  I understand the kids not wearing masks 100% reliably when only 2 but our best protection for our children who cannot be vaccinated is that ALL of the adults around them must be fully vaccinated and wearing masks 100% of the time. 

    Well, unfortuantely for that director they have no choice. They are actively breaking the law by not requiring masks indoors for anyone over the age of 2 regardless of vaccination status. There are also special COVID rules that all licensed daycares must follow to be able to operate. I would inform them of the current mask mandates and report them to the health department as well as the licensing board. Also, as a parent to a 2.5 year old in daycare...I would look for a new daycare ASAP. They sound like they don't actually care about the health and safety of children.  

  • No Masking at Preschool

    (12 replies)

    Hi Parents,

    Our preschool currently does not require kids to wear masks.  In the past, when the question was asked, the rationale was that it's too hard to keep masks on kids.  I have many concerns about this in light of the Delta surge and looking for feedback from other parents on 1) does your daycare/preschool require masks for kids 2 and up as per CDC recommendation?  2) any advice for approaching this topic with the Director?

    thank you!

    RE: No Masking at Preschool ()

    Our preschool (Broadway Children's School/Oakland) does require masks for all children. I believe the director had noted that it was a recommendation or requirement from the state board. They have back-up single-use masks (with fun prints!) for kids to try if theirs from home aren't comfortable, and if that doesn't work, the kiddo is sent home to try again the next day. They also had plans set up that if kids were having difficulty with their masks that they would be moved away from the other kids until the issue could get resolved. Only one of the 3-4yo's had problems (and eventually worked it out), the others had no problems. It helped that all the teachers and helpers wore their masks 100% of the time to model the behavior and that the kids had been practicing wearing masks at home. It also helped that they had easy-to-understand rules for when masks could be taken off: only during snack time when the kiddo was sitting in their socially-distanced snack spot, which itself was visually marked with a colorful hula hoop.

    My tips: help them locate fun back-up masks, suggest ideas for making it easier for kids to understand (model the behavior, clear rules), and ask other parents to also express their concerns to the director.

    RE: No Masking at Preschool ()

    1) Yes, our preschool requires masks. We enrolled in Feb 2021, when vaccines weren't out yet. I had pointed out to the director our child wasn't accustomed to masks, and she said that wouldn't be a problem because since everyone wears masks on campus, our child would learn just to do it as well. This turned out to be true. 2) No practical advice comes to mind. You would be essentially lobbying to change preschool policy, which I think is totally doable, but I have no experience in that kind of effort... perhaps if you talk to other parents and get their buy-in to ask the preschool to change policy? It depends on the preschool. If a co-op, I can imagine this being possible. Our preschool is fairly 'top-down', so because they already had the policy in place, we felt comfortable going with then. Good luck... 

    RE: No Masking at Preschool ()

    Our preschool does not require them but "encourages" them for the 2s and 3s class. The 4s class is "strongly encouraged" to wear masks. When this started (at least in the 3s class) I often didn't see many of the kids wearing them. But the longer they've had that expectation in place the more and more of the kids have been wearing them. With the move to the 4s class, my child seems to be wearing his much more consistantly. I think this is practice, age and the teachers gentle reminding and encouraging.

  • Trouble finding masks for petite teen

    (10 replies)

    Hi - we haven't been able to find a good mask to fit my teen daughter - she's 14 but petite.  The grown up masks are too big and child ones too small.  We've tried some sellers on Etsy but no luck.  I don't have any sewers in my small friend/family circle - is there a place we can go pay to have one made to fit?  Or good sources of ones to buy with variable sizes?

    It's so hard to know if a mask will fit your teen, because everyone's face is different, not just in size, but also in shape, bridge of nose, etc. But here are some of my suggestions:

    Uniqlo Adult Size M: I bought these and they were a bit small for my average (adult) face, so this might fit your daughter. 
    Costco 32 degrees Face Mask (Child): These are very flexible. They fit my 9 year old who has a very large face, with room to stretch more.

    Or...just take any adult size mask that doesn't fit well, and buy ear loop adjustors (they are also called cord locks). You can get them for very cheap on Amazon, they look like little silicon tubes. Slide them over the ear loops and pull to adjust. These will only work for masks with an elastic ear loop (note that the two masks I recommend above have a fabric ear loop so won't adjust). This is a MUST BUY actually for anyone to get a good snug fitting mask, as there is no such thing as "one size fits all". 

    My very tall 8 year old prefers to wear my masks because the kid ones are getting too small for her. We get soft fabric ones with the adjustable straps on Etsy. They also don’t fog up glasses which is huge for us. https://www.etsy.com/shop/StaySafeAndHealthy

  • Masks at playgrounds

    (12 replies)

    How is everyone handling people who aren't masked at playgrounds? At least in Berkeley, there are signs everywhere requiring masks for kids and adults, but obviously some people just ignore them, including those with kids perfectly capable of handling it. It drives me crazy to see people acting like rules don't apply to them, but beyond that, these parents are sending a bad message to the kids and putting the rest of us in untenable positions. Would love any strategies anyone has arrived at. 

    RE: Masks at playgrounds ()

    I hate to say it but I don't think the mask situation at playgrounds is any different than any other public space. I just got back from a walk on the Ohlone Greenway, very well traveled by cyclists and pedestrians, and about half were masked. (I was!) Many people just don't think it's a priority outside. You certainly can say something to parents or older children but I wouldn't expect to make a huge dent in the problem. You have to decide whether or not the risk is worth it to your family. :(

    RE: Masks at playgrounds ()

    I'm not really concerned about no masks outside.  From extensive research and discussion with doctors, Covid has an extremely difficult time to spread outside.  Although these may be the "rules", I put my focus more on where my child will be at risk.  I'd advise if you don't feel comfortable with you child at the park with potentially unmasked children, to not take your child to the park.

    RE: Masks at playgrounds ()

    I really wish Public Health would address this. My approach has been to sanitize swings before my kids play on them if there is no one around. If I see a lot of kids - we just avoid it. I was at Fairyland and saw to s of 7/8/9 yr olds not wearing masks. At one point I yelled at my kids “Don’t play near maskless kids!” It worked but shamed all the other kids. I don’t want this generation to be ashamed/scared, but I also want the nonchalant Russians at Heather Farms park to mask their kids ;) 

    As a law enforcement officer, I would recommend just walking away. People are crazy even if they are parents. Have a conversation with your kids before going out to play if they are old enough to take turns when others are around.

  • Hello! 
    We have a 4 yr old boy who had been in full time Montessori preschool pre covid however earlier this year we had a baby so in an abundance of caution we decided not to send him back in June when the school opened up because the children weren’t required to wear masks even though the staff is doing so and proper cleaning is also in effect. The school states they aren’t legally able to mandate masks for the kids due to state licensing rules. However when talking to our sons pediatrician she said there were kids at the practice who attended schools with mandatory masks in the Oakland/ Berkeley area so I’m reaching out to anyone who’s kid attends a preschool with mask requirements or knows of a school. Does this even exist? We live in the Montclair area if that matters. I feel my son needs at the very least a part time program from a structure and social aspect although he is enjoying his time at home with my husband as primary caretaker of both kids. 
    I want to make sure he’s fully ready for kindergarten next year. Also if your child attends one of these schools how do they and you like it etc?

    Thanks in advance for any and all your advise as it relates to this topic  

    All the Best,

    Lisa

    Mi Mundo in Berkeley requires masks, they have openings. https://mimundopreschool.com/living-with-covid/ 

    My 3.5 year old son attends Mi Mundo and the children and adults all wear masks. We are new to the school this year (we attend the El Cerrito location) and are very happy with the program. I would highly recommend the school based off our experiences thus far. Feel free to reach out to me offline if you have any questions.

    Our wonderful Spanish immersion preschool, Mi Mundo, has openings and requires masks! My son attended when they reopened over the summer and I felt like their protocols were good - masks for all (kids could take them off if they were spaced out and outside), temp checks, lots of hand washing, etc. We were there for two years and loved it - my son made amazing art projects and learned Spanish and still talks about how much he misses it.

  • Masks at Daycare?

    (13 replies)

    HI everyone, our daycare has recently fully opened up but none of the staff or teachers wear masks, and when we inquired about it, they seemed to imply that's just the way it is and that they are not going to force anyone to wear a mask.  They ask that parents wear masks during drop-off and pick-up.  I'm curious what other daycares are doing in terms of asking staff/teachers to wear masks?  I've heard of some reasons against it as young children can be scared of masks, but in this environment with COVID cases still rising so quickly in our county (we are in Oakland), it seems like wearing masks for teachers/staff is the right thing to do?  Curious what other daycares are doing.  thanks!

    RE: Masks at Daycare? ()

    Our daycare does not use masks either and I'm happy about it.  Parents have to wear masks and kids take off outside shoes upon entering or the shoes get wiped clean.  Young kids learn so much observing teachers expression and watching them speak (key for speech development) that it will delay young kids' development to be around masked caregiver all day long.  Our daycare is small and young kids cannot wear masks anyway so as long as the caregiver are ok not wearing masks (it is home daycare so they are all owners or their family members) as a parent I'm happy with it. 

    RE: Masks at Daycare? ()

    At our school (Little Elephant too!) in Berkeley, all caregivers wear masks. 

    RE: Masks at Daycare? ()

    Wow. I assumed every school/daycare was. Our preschool (Colibri in Oakland) all the teachers are required to wear them. It is optional for students (I don't think any are). Parents must wear them at pickup and drop off.

  • I'm wondering what other are doing when they encounter people who are not wearing a mask or improperly wearing a mask?  
    Do you say something? 
    If it's at a business do you leave and shop somewhere else?

    I was on College Ave ordering take out.  After entering and placing an order I saw the person preparing the food was not wearing there face mask properly.  It was pulled down exposing their nose.  I debated saying something but, left instead.  I'm not is a high risk demographic.  But I am in one of the higher than average risk groups.

    When I was shopping in one of the large chain supermarkets and saw employees who were wearing face shields and no mask at all.  Two other employees had their mask pulled down exposing their nose.  At other times I have seen people wearing masks upside down or masks that just don't fit.

    While I appreciate that these people are making an effort to prevent the spread of covid-19 the result is nearly ineffective.

    If you enter a business where the employees are not wearing a mask properly do you just leave?
    Do you have something clever to say to get them to wear a mask or wear their mask properly?

    Thanks

    I think that this is tricky--people generally don't like to be told what to do, and so saying something about mask wearing seems likely to make people defensive, rather than change their behavior. If I am out in general public and someone is not wearing a mask, I don't say anything--but just move away. I do think that the situation you described--a business--is different.   In this case, maybe it's more effective to leave and then call or email the business and politely say that you came in and left because employees were not wearing masks.  I would assume that if a business wants customers to come back, they would address this with employees. And if it's a manager that isn't wearing masks, then good for that person to know that it matters to customers. You could also say something as you leave the business, but if you are talking to employees and not the manager, that may not have much impact. 

    It depends. If it is a store or restaurant or another place where I am a customer and it is employee not wearing the mask then I would leave and say something to the people there that I'm leaving because I don't feel safe there due to no mask by employees (if the employee in question is interacting with customers or food and so putting me at risk) since it makes it my business and I feel ok saying something.  If it is just another customers I will stay away from that person or maybe step out and go back in when they leave, I generally don't feel it is my business to tell another customer what to do and will just stay away from them.  With employees it is different since I have a right to let them know that I won't purchase from them because I don't like their safety/hygiene standards and then will leave. 

    I tell any frontline worker “thank you for your service” and if I see they are not wearing a mask, I remind them to. I am so grateful for the work they are doing and I wouldn’t want them to lose any business because of something so small. 

    As for mask wearing...

    Why? My spouse is working with patients who have COVId everyday and we are always potential carriers. We’ve lost two friends to it. 

    Do masks work? We don’t know. The N95 masks do. The others may or may not. At this point, they are a sign of respect - that this is being taken seriously. If someone is preparing my food and they sneeze and don’t cover their mouth or nose, would you eat the food? 

    I encounter this situation with friends in passing (we continue to distance because we are potential carriers). With friends and family, I have to say, “ah you don’t want go near us!” And “oh my mask is falling” to remind them. If they don’t catch the drift, then I say, “if you don’t wear your mask, that’s fine but I have to stay apart from you.”

    ***For the record, three months ago, I was making fun of wearing masks and I really, really despise them.