Masking During Covid

Parent Q&A

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  • Just a heads up, I too am pro vax, pro science, and pro choice to mask. My five-year-old has been attending a private Montessori Spanish immersion for two years. We are looking to move to a different Montessori Spanish immersion if not language immersion Montessori, or private, or Christian in oakland, piedmont, or alameda. Looking for any good recommendations for schools that aren’t forcing children to mask or at least given a choice. Since the pandemic my five-year-old school has been continuously wearing mask indoors and outdoors which I think is ridiculous. He’s also exhibiting learning and reading issues but is excelling in other areas such as science math and art and music.  My 3 year old twins have been in a dare care setting where masks have not been worn, only by the teachers and they’ve had the same amount of covid outbreaks 1-3 every few months or so as my five-year-old school has had with the strict mask policies and weekly Covid testing.  We’re thinking of moving to a different school even though we like the school minus the mask policy, because when we questioned the masks and the science, we were told we could leave. That was the solution!  Looking for any great recommendations from past parents at other schools. 

    There are several schools without masks i believe. Our son goes to berkewood hedge, its not an immersion but they have spanish lessons. Its an incredible school with many aspects of montessori. They have been very rational during the pandemic, which I appreciated greatly, focusing on in person and whats best for kids. I am with you in terms if pro vax and science, and am very worried about what masking and the closures have done to our kids .

  • Any preschools not requiring masks?

    (15 replies)

    We would like to find a preschool for our 4 year old that will not be requiring masks for the upcoming school year. I would really appreciate if you could share any info on any school in the North Berkeley / Albany / Kensington area that meets this criteria.
     

    For what it’s worth, I would like to note that masking of preschoolers is not an evidence-based practice and our region is an extreme outlier globally in imposing masking on preschoolers.  This is why we are seeking options. We are a pro science pro vax family. 

    Check out Keystone Montessori in El Cerrito. Masking is optional and I would say about half the kids mask and half don't.

    We've been living for 8 years in Switzerland and just moved back to the Bay Area and I have to say it is completely outrageous to witness the mask requirements on toddlers and preschoolers in this region. Our kids will go to East Bay German International School and they are not requiring masks on preschoolers. Hope you can find something! <3, another pro science pro vax family!

    Berkeley Little School on Hopkins is a great school. They are currently following guidelines that recommend the use of mask. Leaving the choice to parents. From what I've noticed some kids come in with mask and others do not. Same with parents. 

    Give them a call I'm sure they can answer any questions. 

    www.berkeleylittleschool.com 

    My husband is an MD who has been working on the pandemic since day one. He was VERY pro mask for at least 18 months,  but now he and his team are questioning (and studies show how not effective they are). But we can’t really say that out loud.  Ultimately, masks are the physical sign that we care. I’ll continue to wearing mine,  but I don’t think it’s good for our kids (there are fungal infections emerging due to chemical compounds in mask + bacteria. There’s also issues with masks amongst younger kids when it comes to speech delays, since children first and foremost learn by reading mouths and facial expressions). 
     

    We are in the same boat as you for preschool, elementary and middle school (our elementary and middle schoolers will suck it up for another year and wear the masks).  At this point, we laughed and said that we might have to join a religion and enroll religious school. Not our cup of tea; however, my sister-in-law who is Jewish is sending her kids to a Catholic school . That’s due to the regulations and she met a few other Jewish families who did the same thing. We are not the homeschooling types but we might be joining the ranks of families who have had to quit their jobs to do the pod learning. 

    If you find a mask optional pre-school in the area, I’d love to know. We personally aren’t going to play the religion card (yet) but separation of church and state can work in your favor (if the school independently chooses not to require masks. Also, keep in mind, any religious school that takes public funding has to abide by the rules of the state). 
     

    It can seem like it, but you’re not alone and your thinking is becoming more common as we learn more. 

    Not sure if they have room, but Magnolia Children’s.

    Hi there! Provax/proscience/pro-mask-choice family here. We have a 4 year old and looked for a mask choice school for our daughter also. We are currently at Step One and they are still masking outside! As of a couple of weeks ago, there were still spots at Hearts Leap North (mask choice outside), Vila Nova (mask choice outside), and the Berkeley School (considering mask choice outside). This has been so frustrating considering our highly vaxxed community and that in the face of surges, we've seen no increase in hospitalization. I highly encourage you to advocate a policy change to your administration and am sending along some resources and my petition:

    https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/unmask-outdoors?fbclid=IwAR3Q_0xl0Bb...

    I am writing because there is a lot of information and discussion about our children's learning environments in the midst of covid. Because we are lucky to live in a highly vaccinated/low hospitalization community, I am advocating for [your school] to consider unmasking outdoors. I understand that our community is deeply divided on this issue and so I am putting this information out there in case you are interested and in an effort to ensure that our school policies are evidence-driven.  Recent articles:https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abm3087"Hayek et al. investigated whether older and vaccinated household members reduced the risk of infection to younger children who are as yet ineligible for vaccination. Regardless of household size, parental vaccination substantially reduced the risk of children up to 12 years old becoming infected. This indirect effect will protect children from risk of severe disease and reduce the propagation of transmission chains." https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/italian-study-shows-ventilation-can-cut-school-covid-cases-by-82-2022-03-22/"COVID infections were steeply lower in the 316 classrooms that had mechanical ventilation systems, with the reduction in cases more marked according to the strength of the systems."
    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/18/briefing/covid-risks-poll-americans.html 

    “Many liberals feel deep anxiety about Covid’s effects on children — even though the flu kills more children in a typical year and car crashes kill about five times as many. Long Covid, similarly, appears to be rare in both children and vaccinated people."

     Background info:-0-5 year olds have very low susceptibility to covid because they have lower ace2 receptor expression (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766522) -face masking in schools are not associated with lower incidence or transmission of covid (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4046809)-masks impair dental health- masks encourage open mouth breathing which reduces saliva production in turn resulting in dental decay. This sets into motion a lifelong pattern whereby excess oral bacteria cause cavities.-many countries have chosen not to mask children so as not to disrupt children's highly sensitive developmental, learning, and social environments and those countries have seen no higher levels of transmission (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/COVID-19-in-children-and-the-role-of-school-settings-in-transmission-first-update_1.pdf

    Unfortunately you won't find anywhere that can guarantee they won't require masks in the upcoming school year. Preschools must follow the mandates from the state. The closest you will get is a preschool that states they won't mask children unless required by law. We are happy at our location (east bay) and they only mask when required by the state - and even then, in the most recent ~6 week mandate in May, they "extended our child grace" when mask mandates came back. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or would like the name of our preschool. For anyone interested, this is a very useful resource: www.urgencyofnormal.com/ 

    I haven’t run into preschools in the coastal East Bay area. I would definitely avoid Berkeley because they tend to have stricter restrictions, which I personally am a fan of.  You might need to look into the San Ramon / Tri-Valley area to find what you’re looking for. 
     

    I’m assuming you 4 y/o is already vaccinated?  With the newest Omicron variants starting to surge, I’d be very nervous about sending a preschooler to a school without COVID safeguards, especially as repeated reinfections have shown to increase long COVID risks.  
     

    Regardless from all the research I’ve published, masking for kids does provide a modest reduction in transmission. here is lay person summary at WebMD: Link to article

    If you can swing the commute, you might look at preschools in Marin. In general, the county has been less susceptible to the more ideologically driven and less scientifically defensible measures during the pandemic. 

    UC berkeley ECEP requires them indoors only and all classrooms have outdoor yards attached where most kids spend the day. Indoors they can’t mask when eating or sleeping so basically they are mostly not masked. 
    Many have been advocating to drop the mask policy altogether for the youngest 2-5yo now that the community can be vaccinated. Furthermore at age 2 especially the masking often leads to extreme touching of the face and objects in the classroom which is much worse, and if you compound that with speech delays and masking going on for the entirety of early childhood for some kids is devastating!! 

    -anti-masking for language development / pro science and pro vax fam.

    People who disagree should take a trip to Europe to understand what reasonable public health policies look like!

    L’Academy in Kensington is mask optional.

    Our kid had a problem with masks at the start of the pandemic, we went to see the ophthalmologist and mentioned they had seen an increase in stye because of masks (kids touching masks that touch eyes and bring dirt in). Once the mask mandate for preschools was lifted, the eye problem immediately improved in our kid. I am so relieved because they were already considering eye surgery for a 3 year old!

    I wish I had a school to recommend but sadly am in the same position, reaching out to show support and know that you are not alone. I've watched my now 6 year old son who has a speech articulation delay lose so much ground during this. We need to have him in school for social reasons but I cry often wondering if we are doing him more harm because of the layers that separate him from being able to communicate clearly with teachers and peers. Professionally in my work with young children I just cringe at the long long waits for things like early intervention and therapy appointments. Sadly think we will be seeing the impact of this on development for a long, long time. You received some great suggestions and I hope you find what is best for your child and family!

    Us too. If you get any good recommendations for maskless school for 5 yr old I’d be interested as well. 

    Arbor Preschool in Berkeley and Oakland is mask optional indoors and out. They support mask wearing for families who request it but the vast majority of students are mask-free throughout the day. All of their staff and families are vaccinated and their students are in the process of doing the same. 

    In Albany, outside only with no masks, but super tiny so not sure about the admissions process? Our friend's kid goes there and they love the teacher: https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/recommend/preschool/redwoodgarden

  • Hello! 

    I'm a mom to a 2 year and 2 month old boy. He just received a provisional autism diagnosis -- his main challenges are around receptive language and fine motor skills. He also  has some sensory challenges - the most prominent one being anything that touches his face. For that reason, mask-wearing is really hard for him. We have been working on getting him to wear a mask with the help of our OT but have not made noticeable gains.

    He was supposed to start at a preschool in June, but upon telling them about his challenges, the school said that we would be unable to attend since they have a strict masking policy. I understand that this is being done to protect the children, but can't help but feel disheartened as a mom to a special needs kiddo who really struggles with the sensory aspect of mask wearing. 

    Anyways, we are now exploring other daycare/preschool options for him that have a more lax masking policy or would be open to making an exception for him because of his sensory challenges and would accept a medical exemption letter. We live in Glenview, Oakland but would consider Berkeley as well. We ideally would love to find a school that has an inclusive environment and would be open to working with us on helping him wear a mask but also show compassion for his challenges. Just to reiterate, we are working on getting him to wear one as we believe in wearing masks especially to protect those who can't be vaccinated, but also don't want him to have to miss out on the benefits of preschool because of his challenges.

    Thank you!

    I can’t help with particular recommendations, but wanted to chime in to say my twins were the same age when they started child care and had a lot of difficulty wearing masks (for a different reason, drooling making the masks wet). I could not get them to stay in them for more than 5 minutes. I was worried they wouldn’t be able to stay in child care but After a week of child care around all the other kids in masks, they’re absolutely fine keeping them on all day. 

    Our preschool, Colibri, is now mask-optional at this point. I have a child in the 4s class and I would say 25-50% of the kids wear masks. I'm not sure about the lower classes. It is a Spanish immersion school and I'm not sure if that would work for your family and child, but we and our two kids have been very happy there. Our third is starting in the 2s class in the fall. The teachers are patient and understanding. When masking started they were great about recognizing how tough it was for kids but also encouraging them to wear them. The administrators are very on top of things. Both my kids have some challenging behaviors (though no diagnosis yet) and they have been very supportive and creative trying to figure out how to make school work. The only caution I would have is that my second has a speech delay. He has an IEP and goes to therapy through OUSD. While his doctor and I were aware of it I was surprised that the school didn't catch it sooner and encourage us to seek out help. I think the Spanish immersion environment (even though my husband and kids speak Spanish at home) and his behavior issues masked the speech delay for a while. So, I would ask some questions about how the teachers and school in general is trained in supporting kids with special needs.

    This is kind of far for you, but you might try the New School of Berkeley, 1606 Bonita Ave, near the corner of Cedar Street. The school has a strong outdoor emphasis, meaning the children are outside all day, including for lunch. They're really only inside for naps and on rainy days. New School recently changed its mask policy and now the children and adults are not required to wear masks outside, and they are required inside. However, given that children have *never* been required to be masked during naps, they're essentially not wearing masks anymore. My three year old son attends and is perfectly happy there, and delighted to be mask-less.

    I'm sorry that you are dealing with this. I don't know any preschool options but maybe consider talking to a lawyer if the preschools aren't making reasonable accommodations for your child and/or are rejecting your medical exemption letter. Also consider getting involved with some of the parent groups that working to fight these kind of harmful and discriminatory policies. I don't know what your commute options are but I would also try looking outside of Oakland/Berkeley. Other areas are doing a far better job of balancing covid risks with other important considerations.  

  • KN95 recs for a 2 year old

    (10 replies)

    Hi. So my kiddo is going to be 2 in a few days and starting a new preschool in January. I’m trying to find a KN95 mask that will fit them well. I see lots of reviews of masks for kids though most of them seem to be geared for children over the age of four. Can anyone recommend a mask appropriate for a two year old? washable is preferred and i am open to disposable recommendations too!!! Thank you

    The only mask I found that my 2.5 year old will wear for extended periods of time and are the equivalent of ~N95 are Happy Masks: https://www.happymasks.com/collections/pro. The only issue is that every other parent also wants them, so they're sold out across the site, until you get off of their waitlist. They are pricey, another warning - but I found for my peace of mind and easing Covid anxiety for our littles, they are so worth the price. I cannot recommend them more, despite the annoying wait time and cost. I recommend getting on their waitlist and buy the max of 5 per order, but find some suitable masks you can get right now until you get off the waitlist. https://www.happymasks.com/pages/waitlist. Good luck! ~ Jen

    From my understanding there are no N95 masks for children, unfortunately only for adults. The problem is the seal is supposed to be completely fitted and secure to not allow any tiny water droplets in, and it’s likely too hard to fit these for children. We used child size surgical masks and/or triple layered fabric masks that are cover their nose and chin. 

    I have been using enro masks. They are not KN95 but they have filtered layers and adjustable ear loops. I find them very comfortable. They do have an XXS size kids mask. You could see if one of those would fit. They have two versions - Tech and Curv. Definitely get the curv one if you can, it’s raised over your mouth so it feels more breathable.  www.enro.com

    So, my daughter is 3.5 now but she has been a champion mask wearer according to her preschool teachers and I think a good fit helps with that.  She does occasionally remark on the smell of a new mask, but accepts that the smell will fade over time. 

    We have the disposable masks we got that were recommend by the citizen-scientist Aaron Collins, who tests masks in his bathroom (he says there are a lot of counterfeits on Amazon, surprise, surprise). 

    His chart is here:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1i06OAItoOwIUaMjElr8mhh0Rw-it6WL-...

    My daughter consistently wears the Bio U&I https://kollecteusa.com/collections/kids/products/kf94-toddler-kids-mask...

    We haven't tried, but he also recommended:

    https://kollecteusa.com/collections/cocofarm-megaxxl

    https://wellbefore.com/collections/kids/products/kids-kn95-fda-5-layers-individually-wrapped?variant=19968676626561

    In terms of washable, my kids love their Happy Masks, although they lose filtration over time (we use them for outdoor park play). They haven't liked the Enro masks, because they suck into their mouths easily as they breathe (the little one just chewed on it). Plus the Enro doesn't have the filter all the way to the edge, so even though the filtration is great, real-life wearing is leaky, making it not much better than a good surgical mask.  

    We also have a Flo Mask, which is great for a good seal, but will be too big for your little one still:  https://flomask.com/

    Finally, a good mask doesn't do much if not worn. I think the messaging to your little one is the trickiest part... I prepped mine for the smell, and being in social spaces was predicated upon wearing the mask (and was willing to pick up and go home if it wasn't being worn). 

    Good luck!!

    Hi! Have you looked into Happy Masks?  They are reusable, and my 2 year old wears it for hours with no issues. They have a good filter, and come in cute patterns. My 4 yr old also wears them well.

    My daughter is 3 now but started masking at 2. Initially we used only Oso and Me masks (cloth, not N95) as they were the only ones I could find that fit her well. Now we use Happy Masks (hard to come by) but great fit and comfort. We also have disposable KN94 masks that fit really well, there are many brands on Amazon, we have Bluna brand ones (with the duck on the packaging).

    NPR just published and article on where to source N95s and there was also a link to  kid’s specific masks

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1i06OAItoOwIUaMjElr8mhh0Rw-it6WL-...

    i can’t seem to paste npr link but the title of article is
     “With Omicron you need a masks that means business”

    There are many KF 94 options, a few KN 95. These masks are NOT washable, but they are reusable, you can usually get a few days until they are soiled. Aaron Collins is a great resource and has tested masks and recommendations on size: 

    https://twitter.com/masknerd/status/1424219326631010306?s=20

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE5Uo3F2TdU

    Personally we used SoomLab KF 94's for our 5 year old but it might be too big: https://soomlab-korea.com/collections/usa-local-delivery/products/usayea...

    They do deliver quickly. Good luck!

    Our 2yr old started with using these from Amazon.  They are very soft and gentle so they don't bother his face. He enjoys the colors too.

    https://www.amazon.com/Kids-Face-Mask-Reusable-Adjustable/dp/B08C4NDXYB/...

    This week we switched to the disposable ones here.  They fit well on him around the face, but I still need to tie tiny knots in the bands.  

    https://www.amazon.com/Taimu-TM-Disposable-Adjustable-Respirator/dp/B08N...

    I would also refer to the CDC website which makes it clear that there are no respirators scientifically approved to be safe and effective for children, and warns that there are many counterfeit masks being sold:

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html

  • 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.

    I agree with your point of view and read of the data (and I'm also a parent of a three year old in pre-school). I am probably less worried about the negative effects than you are but I do think it is ineffective for kids who are together 8 hours a day wearing cotton masks (and in our case, taking them off at naptime), to be wearing them at all. It's providing marginal if any benefit based on all studies I have read about cotton masks and extended indoor exposure times. I will say that masking seems to have cut down a lot on colds, but obviously there are other things going on that could make it hard to untangle what exactly is reducing the colds. 

    The point in time at which I am going to feel a lot worse about this situation is if we get our kids vaccinated, achieve a similar level of population wide vaccination in Berkeley that we are seeing 12 and up, and are still requiring our kids to wear masks. I'm very concerned that this community is never going to give up masking as a common practice indoors.

    In the meantime, I encourage my child to take off her mask when we are outside and try to give her as much mask free time outside of school as possible. 

    I am with you 100%. I also want to know when my elementary school age child will be able to take her mask off on the playground. And if she is able to get vaccinated soon, I expect her not to have to wear a mask inside. The risk of covid to children is about the same as the flu: https://www.npr.org/2021/05/21/999241558/in-kids-the-risk-of-covid-19-an...

    I think we just need to keep saying this over and over until public perception starts to change. People are scared, I get it. In addition, in the Bay Area, mask wearing has become politicized and covid protocol is a question of virtue signaling instead of reality. For every covid precaution, there is a price, and we take risks every day because the rewards are worth it. I know that I don't like socializing in a mask, why would my child want to only interact with her friends with masks on? And if she were to be totally ok with it, I worry about what that says about her social/emotional development.

    Anyway, no solution, just want to make sure you know that many others feel the same way. Parents need to continue to speak out on this and make our voices heard.

    I'm not sure what sort of response you're looking for here -- it seems like you mostly wanted to express your feelings. 

    But if you are asking for opinions of other parents of young children, here's mine: I am happy that my preschool requires my two- and four-year old children (and all their peers) to wear masks. Knowing that none of the children at the school are vaccinated, and especially as Delta has demonstrated that kids are not safe from the risks of COVID, knowing that they are masked gives me peace of mind and allows me to send them to a daycare they love (and that allows my husband and I to keep our out-of-the-home jobs) comfortably and happily. I agree that wearing masks outside seems unnecessary. Nevertheless, our preschool requires it and I have no problem with my kids complying with that rule. I have to admit I'm bewildered by your claim of masks causing "significant harms" to kids. Where are you getting that from? I am aware of no research suggesting as much, and in fact have seen studies showing that masks have no impact on social-emotional learning or language development. My children have never complained about wearing masks (the two-year-old was excited to be a "big kid" and wear a mask like her brother once she turned two), and I have noticed no signs of harm to them. Also, my kids have gone close to two years without any illness more serious than a sniffle, which is a huge win in my book.

    As far as I am concerned, mask requirements should begin to be lifted when everyone of all ages has access to vaccines -- which seems like it's only a few months away. Considering we've been doing this since March of 2020, wearing masks for 3-4 more months just doesn't seem like a big deal to me. 

    Yes, I absolutely share your concern. As you mentioned, it’s not based on science nor do children seem to be affected. The adult population working at these facilities can get vaccinated. So who are we protecting? 

    Thank you for asking this question. We actually left BUSD last year when it became apparent that covid risk was the only risk they cared about (as our children had zoom school everyday while schools all over the world successful taught children safely in person, following the science ...). Based on my personal conversations with them, many parents share your concerns and would to see a more data driven approach involving an appropriate risk-benefit analysis. 

    I don't know if they deal with preschools specifically, but you may be able to find a subset of the Open Schools Berkeley | Facebook group that is working on this, or maybe they could put you in touch. The larger group will not touch the issue and this seems to be driven by a combination of (a) fear of being associated with "right wing crazies"; and (b) fear that somehow pushing back on mask mandates in the classroom (and apparently also outside during PE) could result in more school closures. I have also been told that at least for school aged children this is a state wide mandate and so there is little use in trying to get local actors to look at the data. But certainly this is a concern for many parents, including myself.

    If you want to message me your email, I can try to put you in touch with some people in Berkeley who may know more about how best to advocate for a science and child-centered approach to this issue. I don't think we will see changes anytime soon unless parents start speaking up and educating people about these things. 

    I’m not a parent of a preschooler, but of a 7 year old and I completely agree with you. The Bay Area as progressive as it is will likely not do away with masks until either the politicians decide its in their best interest or parents refuse to send their children to school unless masks and mandates stop and the districts lose money. 

    Without getting into details, I’m an RN and have been working on the Covid unit in an SF hospital since the pandemic started. I will tell you that what myself and colleagues have seen and dealt with does not line up with what is being reported by the media or the politicians. When we started seeing the “data” being literally created by the doctors choosing who to admit based on their vaccination status and age and not their actual necessity for acute care hospital services requiring hospitalization, we had to ask ourselves why? None of it made sense. 

    The bottom line is money. The hospitals get paid by the feds for every covid patient admitted, and billions of dollars spent on the vaccine is lining someone’s pockets for every person that gets vaccinated. Why else mandate it? Especially in California with the lowest covid rates in the nation? With the majority of the Bay Area already 70- 80% sometimes 90% vaccinated?

    All this will continue until people realize what’s really going on. I’m neither a democrat or republican. I’m not an anti-vaxxer or conspiracy theorist. I’m going off what I’ve witnessed as a nurse on the Covid unit throughout this entire pandemic.

    Covid is real. Its transmissible through respiratory droplets like the flu, rsv, or any other cold virus. If you have underlying disease you can likely get very sick needing hospital care and can possibly die. If you’re healthy, it’ll likely be a moderate flu if nothing at all. Most people don’t get preventative care so they may think they’re healthy, but in fact have underlying disease- high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Those are the ones who are needing hospitalization or eventually die, but the “data” will say they were otherwise healthy.

    Its crazy how we are where we are today in regards to covid and how divided our world has become off of information that is not entirely accurate. I don’t blame anyone for not knowing since most people don’t know someone who is on the literal front line of this pandemic and are going off the news media, cdc, and “data”. 

    I would really like to see masking lifted at preschool when the kids and teachers are outdoors. We are lucky enough climate-wise that kids can spend tons of time outdoors year round as well, which could further reduce masking. I understand logistics makes this hard- it's probably a lot of work for teachers to help tons of kids take on and off masks all day, so the default is probably to keep them on at all times. I have also noticed that some schools require masking all day, including outside, but then have kids eat lunch and snacks inside all together maskless- so the inconsistency of policies is frustrating. I do however find myself wanting to overly protect them though as the vaccine nears, so I understand people who want to keep them. It's like, we have done all this hard work for so long and they have been masked for so long and we are so close..why screw it up now? Anyway, thank you for posting. 

    I'm hoping it can be the end of the year or Jan/Feb next year once we can get the school/toddler-age population vaccinated.

    It's obvious to me that we should not be asking toddlers to wear face masks.  The science doesn't support it, and an honest evaluation of the risks and rewards suggests that it's not worth it.

    But it's very difficult for people to calculate risks.  Naturally, all of us parents are risk-averse with our children.  We want to do everything we can to keep them safe.  But sometimes we do too much, and our safety concerns end up harming them.  I'm thinking of the over-protected kids who can't go off to college by themselves because they're so used to having their parents do everything for them.  But it's an issue that comes up with kids of all ages, and it's not just in the social realm.  Even in the realm of physical health, you have to make judgements about what's safe.  Do you tell your kid not to climb on the play structure, because you're scared they're going to fall off?  Or do you push them to take a risk and see how much they can do?  Finding that balance is hard to do.

    I think there's a universal tendency in human psychology to over-emphasize the clear and present danger, and not pay enough attention to the long-term dangers or the hidden dangers.  Take, for example, the debate over climate change.  It's hard for people to appreciate the danger of a warming climate, when the worst effects are still years off in the future.  It's a lot easier to see that you need your car right now.  Will we as a society be willing to make the changes to our economy that need to be made, in order to forestall the worst effects of climate change?  Probably not, in my opinion.  But for anyone who has studied this issue, it's obvious that we're making the wrong decisions, and our children will suffer immensely as a result.

    I would encourage everyone to bring this same lens to looking at COVID.  People are freaking out about the immediate danger of the virus, without thinking enough about the long-term damage being done to our children by closing schools, limiting social interactions, and disrupting the normal socialization process whereby young children learn to read emotions and express themselves.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't have any safety concerns. I'm saying if you look at our history, and our typical pattern of making decisions based on short-term thinking, you can use that to fine-tune your risk assessment.

    I share your concern.  Are you on Facebook?  There is a group called CA Parent Power asking the same

    questions at the (public) school level, but I wonder if they might be able to connect you to any organizers working

    to do the same with early education.

    -When did we stop following the science?

    I'm going to take some issue with your assumptions here. I think you are coming from a good place of wanting what's best for your child and other preschoolers but as a pediatrician I have not seen any evidence of masks inhibiting social and emotional growth or language development; few skin irritations (and honestly probably less than what I see with people rubbing their face). and in terms of them being unsanitary in toddlers, they are more sanitary than the hand to mouth, hand to butt to mouth stuff that happens without the mask and kids get sick less when mask wearing. whether or not kids mouth breathe more with them on I have not seen studies so can't comment. It does seem like schools where everyone wears masks get a lot less illness in general and COVID in specific.  I do think the masking requirement will get lifted but I doubt it before January. but it doesn't seem to cause harm that I've seen and it seems like it may cause risk reduction so I don't share your concern. Here's hoping that all eligible people get immunized ASAP, the rates drop to negligible and they get to take their masks off! :)

    After 20 months of masking, I think 3 more is a small price to pay.  I also know there are plenty of preschools around who are very lax about masking.  If you feel that strongly about it, I'm sure you could find one for your child.  Bear in mind that the families who have kids at schools with strict covid protocols mostly want it that way.  And while we may never return to "normal," I personally think it is fair to ask all people, including adults, to continue to mask indoors and in crowds until vaccines are available to all (6+ mos).  

    Yes, I could not agree with you more and sincerely applaud you for raising these points and questions.
    I do not understand why parents in the Bay Area (filled with highly intelligent, pro-science people) do not speak up more about this!

    No, there is no benchmark. I applaud you for taking such a nuanced and evidence-driven view, and wholeheartedly encourage you to advocate. That said, you're fighting an uphill battle around here. Rejection of COVID mitigation measures has become the red-state hill-to-die-on. Acceptance of mitigation measures, including ones that may not provide benefit is the blue-state converse. Have you ever felt obliged to put your mask back on as you walk out of a restaurant after sitting maskless for 45 minutes breathing your aerosols into the air around you? I'm a pediatrician in one of the hardest-hit communities in the Bay Area. I'll gladly suck up whatever pain-in-the-butt measures will protect me, my family, my patients, and my community. I get really fed up with performative gestures or non-evidence driven overkill that has negative secondary effects. You make a good case that masking preschoolers falls into the latter category, but I think it'll be a while until you get many people on board with you.

    Hi there. I also have a preschooler that is masked all day (even outdoors) and share your frustration. All of the teachers/staff at the school are vaccinated so I wish that they will ease up on the masking a bit. However I do not know if all of the parents are vaccinated. I guess if the administration felt comfortable to ask if all of the adults in the children’s lives are vaccinated, we can stop imposing masks on the kids all day. 
    Another side effect of a litigious culture?This makes me sad. 

    I 100% share your concerns and have been deeply troubled that I (under most circumstances) can't voice my perspective or share data with others'. The disappearance of nuance, ability to discuss things outside of one's viewpoint, and desire to force others into certain behaviors or habits (like masking a 3 year old) has been incredibly disheartening to experience and witness. I unfortunately don't really think there's a way out of this whole thing as people a) won't read medical journals or consider information that goes against the Bay Area narrative ("it's super dangerous for your kids, mask at all times") and I think most parents are so tired that they don't want to do further investigation or acknowledge other realities exist. I cringe when I remember 18 months ago, people taking to social media to encourage "the Teddy Bear campaign" -- "put a teddy bear up in your window so kids can be cheered up when they walk outside!" Then we proceeded to close playgrounds for 8 months, accused children of being superspreaders, and then masked them (indefinitely) with dubious data. It's heartbreaking. All this to say: if you find a way to advocate for preschool children's interests, please let me know; I'd love to join you. I'm also pro-outside playdates, where kids can be kids and interact with each other in normal circumstances. So if that feels like an option, please let me know too. 

    Very interesting points that you bring up.

    Unfortunately, the mask has been politicalized. People in the Bay Area are the most stringent about masking wearing especially in the more liberal parts of Northern California. My brother and his family live in Orange County where it is more conservative and right leaning. At their daughters' preschool, masking is optional. 

    I think it's fine that outdoor masking should be done based upon the cases in the community and vaccination rates. During the Delta surge, masking even outdoors was appropriate. Right now, UK is surging and based on the Delta variant patterns, we should expect it to reach the US in 2 months. So, in theory, we should be okay with no masking outdoors right now since the cases are low.  

    We know that preschoolers tend to touch their face with their fingers, can't socially distance, etc so wearing a mask might be best to mitigate even passing the cold and flu. My school age daughter was home last week for a cold but we couldn't bring her back until she had a negative covid test...so even though she was feeling better the next day, she was at home for an additional 2 days waiting for the covid result.  

    Although not ideal, kids are adaptable and can learn to understand emotions with masking: https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/Wearing-Masks_Tipsheet.pdf

    Yesterday, my kid's preschool announced a teacher tested positive for covid. I was not worried, because they take masking seriously, and because, as you say, for healthy toddlers, the covid risk is minimal. Today, none of the kids in her classroom tested positive. I was very pleased that the preschool's masking and testing protocol worked. You are right that for most preschool kids, masks have important downsides, as well as a few upsides (e.g., fewer colds, less thumb sucking). But for families with high-risk individuals, masking in preschools has huge benefits, and I for one am more than happy to have my preschooler keep on wearing masks for a while. 

    Thank you for this thoughtful, well-written post on a topic that strikes a chord with me and others I know. I'm a parent of a 3 year old and a 1 year old and am also a liberal, pro-science member of this community.  I wonder if there is some organizing that can be done around this? I'd also be very interested in removing the city of Berkeley's guidelines that ask everyone to continue to wear masks at playgrounds. The signs asking people to do so are still up at many playgrounds around our home and  people follow rules here (which is great!) but I'm at a loss as to why we're still masking at playgrounds as well. The city's last posting about it cited statewide guidelines, but those state guidelines are no longer in effect so it would make sense to loosen up a bit here too. 

    I understand your point, but I do not agree that masks are harmful for children and haven't seen any compelling data to support that. Indeed there are many countries where masks have been used for years during cold and flu season and I haven't heard any negative effects. I think one thing to keep in mind is that while healthy children are unlikely to get very ill - not all children fall into this category. Parents of children with conditions that make them more vulnerable to covid also need care for their kids and excluding them from preschool is unfair to the children. Perhaps you can think of mask wearing for healthy kids as similar to not including nuts in the lunches of kids w/o allergies to protect kids with allergies in the class? Similarly, some parents may have conditions which put them at risk and in some cases these are the same families most in need of childcare. Vaccines for littles are coming soon and hopefully with that rates will fall. In the meantime masks help protect vulnerable families. 

    This write-up that rounds up what research exists on the downsides of masking just came in my inbox this morning and thought it might be of interest. Emily Oster is one of my most trusted sources of evidence-based parenting advice. Similar to what has been shared by many of the commenters on here, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of research to show huge negative impacts of masking, but there are clearly some, and we should be thinking about what the off-ramps are to ending the practice.  https://emilyoster.substack.com/p/kids-and-masks?r=nuf65&utm_campaign=po...

  • 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! 

    I believe most of the East Bay independent schools are doing weekly testing, so I would check in with those that offer preschool programs. EBI, EB, and the Renaissance School come to mind but there are probably others. All schools and preschools in the state are required to have kids and teachers masked, so hopefully that has not been hard to find (and I'd skip any school that is not following that mandate, because who knows how many other licensing requirements they are also ignoring!)

    Every preschool I know of requires masking for teachers and students, I believe it's required by the county. Hearts Leap does surveillance testing for kids (and I'm guessing teachers too?) on site. We are at Via Nova and we have home-based PCR testing, everyone swabs at home and then the samples get sent into a lab - required weekly for teachers and recommended for kids and parents. But I think you're going to have a hard time finding any spots at any preschool right now; most fill up for the fall by early spring, so to find a spot right now you'll have to cast a wide net and probably compromise on something. One thing you could consider is starting a testing program, we just started ours at Via Nova and people's insurance or the CARES act covers all the costs, so the preschool just has to coordinate distribution of testing materials and sending in the samples each week. (Not that that's nothing, but it isn't like they're paying for all of the tests!)

    Ducks Nest in Berkeley has strict mask requirements for students and teachers (and parents, when inside the gate), and vaccine requirement for teachers, but does not do their own surveillance testing of kids or staff. They do have strict requirements for surveillance of symptoms and everyone attests to their child's health at the beginning of each day, and they require a negative PCR test before a child can come back to school (even after just a clear runny nose). FYI, the type of rapid antigen testing that some schools are doing is not very helpful in terms of detecting asymptomatic infection - it detects less than half of what a PCR test would detect in an asymptomatic person. Rapid antigen tests are really best used to confirm Covid in the presence of symptoms. The testing piece isn't a deal-breaker for me. 

  • 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!

    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.

    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. 

    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!

    I am hoping that others reply as well because I’d be interested in trying some other kinds. So far the best fit we’ve found are the pleated Old Navy masks. They are cheap and thin so definitely not the best masks. And they are definitely not going to filter out smoke. But they fit his face and stay above his nose and mouth and he generally keeps it on so hopefully better than nothing. 

    I am also very interested in responses to this question! After reading through many reviews, I found Skip Hop cloth masks fit my 2-yr old well and she likes the designs so seems more willing to wear them longer. It's smaller than other kid-size masks, but the soft material has some give so it's more "stretchy" and flexible.

    The Crayola reusable cloth masks have worked well for us.  We got them when our daughter was about 18 months old and started wanting to wear masks like she saw us doing when we went out.  The fit is very adjustable.  We’ve found that being able to make the straps above and below the ear slightly different lengths really helps them stay on.

    Just Play 3 ply kids face masks in small are great, very soft, and work well for my 2 year old. I've purchased at Target and on Amazon.

    Vogmasks in the child size might work well for you as well. 

    We've been using Crayola Kids Face Masks with our two year old - they have adjustable straps and are the perfect size for 2 year old faces... and he loves the colors. :) 

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08B2P2736/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_...

    Our favorite are from Rothy’s. I also got some from Carter’s that fit well. Old Navy is popular too, however, I found those to be a little big. 

    Our favorite are from Rothy’s. I also got some from Carter’s that fit well. Old Navy is popular too, however, I found those to be a little big. 

    We love Vistaprint masks for our small toddler and his folks!

    Good old Crayola masks from Amazon (they run small and fit my 2nd percentile 2 year old at the time).  Happy Masks in the smallest size.  They are sold out though.  :(

    We have had great luck with these:

    https://www.toptrenz.com/Reusable-Printed-Fashion-Masks-s/2099.htm

    Found them at Henry Bear when we were in Cambridge, MA but they can be ordered directly online too. Can be used with a filter or not, adjustable ear loops and a wire at nose (that actually holds up!). Easy to wash and I air dry but they have been fine the times they made it into the drier too. We do size 3-7 and find it works as it’s adjustable. 

    We found masks with cars and planets at Daiso, they fit our toddler well without the need of adjusting straps.

  • 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.  

    We’re new to daycare, but ours is taking things very seriously. Adults wear masks, kids above 2 wear masks, we were all reminded of the illness policy last week. Plus lots of cleaning, filters, etc etc. our provider has made me feel as comfortable as she possibly can and I definitely trust she’s doing the best she can given the circumstances. I’d connect with other parents at your school to see if anyone else wants to push the issue, talk to the director again, and get on some waitlists elsewhere.

    I'm an administrator for a small preschool so am on top of regulations. For the first 8 months or so of the pandemic it was utterly confusing because there were directives coming from the state and county health departments as well as child care licensing and things didn't always align but we were always told to go with whatever was most restrictive. The Alameda County health & Berkeley health departments hosted super informative webinars for child care schools so the resources are out there to get informed, and licensing sends out updates to all licensed facilities. Now the regulations are pretty clear cut, child care licensing is having everyone follow the state and county health departments which  both say that everyone over the age of 2 in a child care facility is required to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status, except when napping or eating. Masks are optional outdoors for vaccinated adults. Our staff has chosen to mask outdoors so that there is no concern with getting close to the kids who are of course unvaccinated and due to concern about the Delta variant impacting children.

    Your teachers are correct that preschools can't legally require nor even ask about the immunization status for a vaccine that is not required by law. However, the teachers can opt to disclose their immunization status if the wish to. We gave that option to our staff and everyone has openly shared that they are vaccinated. 

    If the teachers aren't masking indoors or you have other concerns about whether or not they are following health department regulations you should call licensing and file a complaint - this will trigger an inspection which isn't as harsh as it sounds as preschools are supposed to get them annually anyway (either surprise or announced, in person or virtual) -- more inform on that is here: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/ccld-complaint-hotline

    You can also look up any preschool's inspection and complaint (if any) history here: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/community-care-licensing/facility-...

  • 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!

    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.

    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... 

    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.

    Hello,

    I recommend you most certainly talk directly to the director of your school.  MOST preschools and elementary schools are enforcing masks.  It is a false statement to say that children cannot get covid, or pass it along to others.  While we are enjoying excellent protection from the vaccines, the state of things is clear--we can still get sick.   I personally know of a PE teacher from a local Waldorf based school, who indeed did get sick w/ covid last year.  Excellent contact tracing revealed it was from the student body.  (this was CONFIRMED, not conjecture).  The resistance to masks is dangerous.  Small tykes can handle it if they can blow their own noses, or feed themselves!  We see kids all over the place masked, they are fine.

    Masks were required this past school year for our son's preschool class (age 3) except during nap time and when eating (they were distanced for both). The school's 2 year old class had the same rule and these rules continued over the summer even when rates were low. I think it is reasonable to recognize that 2 and 3 year olds are not going to be perfect at this but that is no reason to not try. Yes, there will be times where one of two of them have their masks below their noses, or off completely. But teachers should be expected to remind them to pull them back up or help them do so. After about 3 weeks in school, my son was completely fine wearing a well fitting mask throughout the entire school day. Talk to the school to see if they are considering an alternate approach and practice extended mask wearing at home for a few weeks. Also, find a well fitting mask - we found halo masks to be the best fit for him but happy masks were a close second.  

    Hopefully this is no longer an issue because the CA dept of public health is now mandating masks for everyone over 2. If the school hasn't started requiring this they're in violation and it's very serious  - call the office that issues their license they have a hotline: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/child-care-licensing

    Hello! My 3yo attends Little Tree Montesssori and they absolutely enforce mask wearing for all kids. To be fair, I have been training my daughter to wear a mask since April 2020 when she was 2. I totally understand how difficult it can be to enforce it, but it is most certainly not impossible. I would approach it with them honestly and ask what their policy is on keeping the kids safe from covid-19 and what protocols they have in place for sanitation and what happens if a family gets sick. Understanding their whole approach to the pandemic might help guide your decision on whether or not your kid is safe there.

    Yes my child's preschool has a strict mask policy (for the whole last year) and it has been no problem. As a result my child is great with a mask at parks/playground etc. I'm now sending my kid in a N95 equivalent mask due to Delta. In fact my youngest child's daycare will have a mask policy for 18 months and up. For the youngest ones, it is about helping them with it and easing into it. But yes, especially over 2 years old masks should be required and teachers can help with that. 

    Our preschool starts at age 2 and everyone wears a mask. I was pretty skeptical last summer when my kid (then 4.5) went back to his preschool, I thought there was no way the kids were going to wear masks. But they all saw each other in masks, and they did fine. Kids are so adaptable, especially at preschool away from their parents! Here's a resource with some good talking points for advocating for mask requirements: https://yourlocalepidemiologist.substack.com/p/advocating-for-kids-resou...

    That would be a dealbreaker for me (though I appreciate that finding a spot at an alternate preschool is easier said than done, so you may not have the option of switching). My kids' old preschool, and all of those our friends' kids currently attend in Oakland and Berkeley, still require masks for all kids and teachers. Parents report that kids seem to have no trouble with this (and this is what I've observed hanging out with friends with preschool-aged children--many are much better maskers than adults!) There are undoubtedly individual kids who struggle with masks, but the preschool should be dealing with those cases one-on-one. Most significantly, this is not currently the preschool's decision to make, assuming you are in the Bay Area--there is currently an indoor mask mandate for all schools for children age two and older in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties (and most of the region). If they are not enforcing that, this would be my entry point as a parent. Good luck!

    My kid’s preschool requires all kids to wear masks, except when they eat, drink and nap.  All teachers and staff are fully vaccinated and wear masks as well.  Since preschoolers are still not eligible to be vaccinated and can still transmit the virus and get very ill, if I were you, I would directly raise my concerns to your school director and see if they will change their policy.  If they don’t, I would probably pull my kid out of the school.  Best of luck!

    Our preschool requires masks on all kids. My kids (4yo and 25 months old) don't have an issue with keeping their masks on. Anytime I do pickup, dropoff, or see pictures of the kids at the preschool, all the other kids have their masks on too. Seems like a nonissue to me.

  • 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

    Try Sol Angeles. We found their adult masks to be on the small side and fit petite women and our almost 9 year old average sized boy who is also between adult and kid sized masks.

    https://www.sol-angeles.com/products/adult-watercolor-mask-watercolor?_pos=2&_sid=57d054cba&_ss=r

    I'm also a petite person and between adult and child size masks (and eyeglasses!). Two masks that fit me well are:

    These are my everyday masks and come in many colors Januu adult size: https://www.jaanuu.com/face-masks?color=black&size=adult&mask_type=standard

    The are light-weight and stretchy and layer comofortably over a disposable mask when double masking in necessary: Uniqulo adult size: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women/airism-face-mask

    We've had good luck with masks from the etsy store ladybirdsewshernest. They are very adjustable to different faces (fabric ear loops with a neck strap). My 14 year old is also petite and prefers the adult size. 

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/ladybirdsewshernest?ref=simple-shop-header-nam...

    We have had good luck with Vida masks, which manage to fit everyone from my husband to my 8-yr old daughter: https://shopvida.com/products/protective-mask. They have a nose bridge, a filter pocket, and adjustable ear loops. They get pretty wrinkly when washed, but otherwise they've been great, esp. in terms of fit. 

    Try livinguard.com. They make high-quality, adjustable masks in different sizes. I have a hard time with masks that are too big and this one works well.  

    Lands End has great cloth masks for smaller faces. Order the kids mask, ages 6-12 years. Also, Hanna Andersson makes great masks for little ones. These hold up well with repeated washings. For surgical paper masks, I fold the mask in half, tie the loops on each end- make a knot, and it fits much better for smaller faces.

    Have you tried the Cat & Jack one size fits all masks at target? Surprisingly, they fit my 12 yo son who also is an awkward size, facially speaking. Only $4 for a 2 pack so minimal risk to try!

  • 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. 

    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. :(

    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.

    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.

    The situation will only change if there's a credible risk of being fined for not wearing a mask, and it doesn't seem that cities are willing to go there. If you know anyone who can influence the city to get them to start ticketing people for not wearing masks (would be a great way to raise revenue!), then persuade them to get this happening! Without that, you'll simply have to adjust your expectations and try not to get upset or stressed when you see people without masks. Yes, they are idiots putting us all at risk, but if they haven't got the message by now they are just too selfish to ever change. 

    This has been driving me crazy. I just try to keep my kid away from those kids, because he's so excited about the playgrounds being open. If I see a ton of unmasked kids, we go somewhere else. If it's just a few, I say loudly if he's near them that it's not safe for him to play near kids without masks. Then I physically move him if I need to (he's only 2, so easy to grab and move). 

    I agree this is very frustrating. I do think people are getting better over time as they see other kids with masks.

    If a kid has a mask but has pulled it down I'll politely ask them to pull it up. Mostly they do. 

    If the playground is not too crowded we try to stay in a different area.

    If the playground is quite crowded and there are a lot of unmasked kids/adults we usually leave :(

    We go to playgrounds early, like right after breakfast, arriving around 8:30am. They’re usually empty or nearly empty so we can keep our distance from other families. Once it gets too crowded to distance, usually around 10am, we leave. I don’t see any point in confronting people who don’t mask. Yes, they’re selfish and wrong, but we can’t kick them out of the park so best to just arrange your schedule in a way that reduces the risk to your family. The only exception to this is one time when there were a couple kids who had masks hanging from lanyards around their necks and they’d clearly just forgotten to put them on and their parent wasn’t paying attention - I asked the kids to put their masks on and they did so right away. 

    I recently approached a parent at a park and asked that they help their child with her mask (she was at least five years old). He seemed a bit irritated, but he complied. I think that there are still many people for whom masks are not normalized and I’m of the opinion that direct non-aggressive communication is the most productive route. 

    I'm not into confronting non-masked people and have left several park situations due to people completely disregarding masking and distancing rules. Parks have been really hit or miss for us this year as such. It's a bummer.
    The only thing I would imagine you could do is buy a box of disposable kid and adult size masks and offer them to folks as needed. You could also consider writing and posting a sign, parent-to-parent, pleading with them to comply. Honestly though, my instinct is if they're disregarding the rules they are also probably enjoying the benefits of having other families avoid them thus allowing them more free reign of the park.

    We were just at a park in Alameda last weekend with 4 older kids running around without masks. They were 8-13 years old. I asked the father if he had masks for them. He also had two younger kids without masks and asked if he had to have them all in a mask. I responded "any child over 3 by law should be wearing a mask-if they can't then they should not be at the park."  He seemed annoyed but went to the car and got his kids' masks. I've decided to start speaking up. Why should my family have to leave a public park because we don't feel safe around kids/parents that aren't following the guidelines?    

    I am not sure of the ages of these noncompliant kids, but I hope you can exercise some grace.  Our son is 2 and has severe sensory issues.  He's had a full-on panic attack from getting sand on bare feet at the beach.  We are patiently and consistently working on these issues, but it's not overnight or easy.  You have no idea how many tears I've cried about how trapped we are in the house because he won't - and frankly cannot - wear a mask without hyperventilating.  Our record is 3 min.  We have ventured to some playgrounds precisely because research shows risk is low outside, and because guidance is for kids *over* 2 (ie: 3+), but we were shamed out of the park the past weekend despite deliberately going to other structures when other children came near, and doing our level best to create significant distance between our family and others.  The worst was a parent who said "if my 1 year old can wear a mask, yours can too" and effectively accused me of being a COVID-19 denier.  When I explained my son's challenge and that we were creating distance, low risk outdoors, etc. they were even more cruel.  This is not a contest, and all kids aren't the same, and parents struggling are doing everything they can for a child with special needs - some of which may not be visible running around the playground.

    I've asked a couple of parents to help their kids put masks on and haven't had any negative reactions - one said he didn't have a mask for his kid, but he was nice about it at least (so the approach of carrying disposable masks would have worked there). We usually avoid the parks if there are too many kids there, but I'm all for asking people nicely to put masks on their kids because I think it's important to create the culture of wearing masks, and a culture of us all being in this together and doing our part to keep each other safe. 

  • 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.

    Hi Lisa, our son is at Step One Preschool in the Berkeley Hills where all the kids are wearing masks. They also have a fairly stringent set of safety measures in place to mitigate covid transmission. My son loves school and can't wait to go on Mondays!

    Hi Lisa! Mine go to KSS Immersion Schools and I know they have a location in Oakland - Montclair! I don't know how close that is to you but they are really great! https://ksspreschool.com/

  • 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!

    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. 

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

    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.

    Our preschool which has kids 18 months to 6 years has all providers wear masks.  I have seen photos from preschool though throughout day where masks may be pulled down during instruction which I prefer.  It will be easier for kids to communicate and listen to instruction in addition I'm a firm believer of children seeing facial expressions at this age in life.  Part of the reason we felt comfortable with sending our kid to school is by discussing this with 2 pediatricians from our practice who both said kids are not big spreaders of Covid. 

    I'm only looking at daycare/preschools that are taking the risks of this virus very seriously. Many are requiring all staff to wear masks, including Guidepost Montessori, which is where I'm currently leaning towards. I have a beloved babysitter watching my daughter (19mo old) a few times a week (for about 4 hours a day) and she has not had any trouble wearing a mask the entire time and my daughter has not shown any possible negative reaction to it. She's very used to seeing them at this point and will remind us if we don't have our masks on when leaving the house. I think it's a very reasonable and smart expectation at this point. For me, if a place did not require them, it would reflect poorly on their judgment and safety concerns for their staff.

    Our daycare (18months - 5 years) does have masks on kids older than 2, teachers, and parents. It's the only reason I felt safe sending my kid back, as my husband and I are working from home. They take off the masks for snack and nap time, but when the kids are playing together they are masked. They have school-only shoes, get temperature checked at arrival, and use lots of handwashing and sanitizer. We sign them in with our own pens, as to not share. We also bring home their bedding every day.

    My kid likes his mask and is excited to be back in school. He's learned that we wear masks around everyone who is not our family to keep everyone safe, as we don't know who is sick. For me, non-masked caregivers would be a deal breaker.

    Our daycare does not wear masks and I'm OK with it. Like other comments have said it helps for children to see our mouths when speaking. There aren't as many kids at our location (as normally) and the kids spend a lot of time outside, so I feel like they are mitigating as much risk as they possibly can given the circumstances. 

    All the caregivers at our daycare are wearing masks (kids are not). My son is totally used to seeing adults in masks, so he wasn't scared, and recognized his teacher instantly even with the mask. This does make me feel more comfortable.

    At our daycare all caregivers wear masks and so do most of the older kids - but not because the kids are forced to but because they really want to (I think they think these let them look like superheroes or something :)). All younger kids (ours is 1.5y) are not allowed to wear masks due to the suffocation risk. I am a big proponent of masks in general but I also think that all the kids and caregivers of a given daycare will spread their germs among each others anyway with or without mask (although likely faster in the latter case).

    In our daycare (tri-valley, Alameda county), all staff, including all teachers, wear face coverings. Parents also wear masks at drop-off/pick-up. Kids seem to be perfectly fine with that. 

    Wearing masks for staff is the right thing to do -- it's one of our only current tools against controlling COVID-19, and it's also a state requirement.  Both my little ones are in daycare/ preschool, and all the staff wear masks. My 20 month old just started daycare a month ago, and I had to hand her off to strangers with masks. She was used to seeing masks and adjusted quickly. Sorry you have to deal with this!

    Here's a link to a State of California web, "COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Child Care Programs"
    https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Infection-Prevention-in-Childcare-Programs-Guidance.pdf

    We have a rental property with six women.  (One of them works at a day care.)  She spent last weekend with her sister who now has COVID symptoms.  She doesn't have any symptoms yet, but that can take 2-4 weeks.  In the mean time we have to assume all of her roommates have the virus and that it is being spread to the kids and family at the day care where she works.  (I don't know if she has or will tell the familes at the day care where she works.)   

    On the other had not sure if at a daycare environment if we can prevent the spread of COVID.  Yet at the same time hospitals in the Bay Area are near capacity due to COVID speading faster than it has in the past.

    This virus doesn't care about peer pressure or politics.  I would read the latest research on the spread of COVID at day cares.  Remember it's not so much your child get the disease.  But your child brining it home and infecting your family. 

    Best of luck with this.  In the mean time wear your mask and practice physical distancing. 
     

     

    Masks required for all caregivers at our preschool in El Cerrito/Kensington.  They also have a bunch of edited rules including:  no parents inside, disinfecting policies and more.  That said, they will not freak out when kids get close to one another, and are still encouraging play together outside.  Biggest different:  all children are in pods and not interacting with one another, and caregivers are limited to ONLY their pod.

    I appreciate this grounded and safe approach to pre-school because I firmly believe keeping schools open is necessary.  Kids need school.  In person school.  Not a zoom.

  • 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. 

    I don’t say anything. Not my business.  But if was a restaurant worker, I wouldn’t go there again. 

    The mask issue is tough.  Realize most counties in CA have NOT mandated masks and the numbers in these counties seem relatively stable.  Social distancing seems the best way to avoid the spread of covid.  CDC guidelines also do NOT mandate mask wearing and are just a "recommendation" and only in close quarters where social distancing is difficult to do.  

    I personally would not say anything and I still would frequent that business.

    If the person is serving you in a store, you don’t need something clever to say. I was in the Monteray Fish Market, ordered prepared salad. The gentleman behind the counter had no mask, no gloves and had his finger in the container. While you can’t catch COVID19 by consuming it, the whole thing was unappetizing. I just told him he needed a mask, gloves and to keep his fingers out of the food. He was perfectly polite, and apologetic. He dumped out the contents, put on a mask and gloves, gave me a new serving and told me he was tired and just forgot. End of issue.

    With people you don’t know but see around you, that is more complicated. I see more and more people not wearing masks. A few days ago, at Semifreddi, I saw a family waiting on line, they all had masks, except for a very elderly woman who was with them, who was obviously experiencing some sort of dementia, and kept wandering off, and was approaching people randomly to say “ hi.” This was obviously a problem for a number of reasons. I attempted to ask them why she was not wearing a mask, and they ignored me. Suggestions welcome!

    Was the person wearing glasses? Wearing a mask tends to make your glasses steam up and then you cant see. If nor, it is very difficult to eork a 9 hour shift, especially somewhere hot, like in a kitchen preparing food, while wearing a mask all day. Its hard to breathe.
    I dont think you say anything, i think you did the right thing by deciding whether or not you want to stay, and then leaving once you decided. You make your choice. But if you're not comfortable you may have to start preparing your own food and buying a months worth of non perishable foods so you dont have to go to the store.

    Risk of virus spread is really complex. From my understanding (always read the sources yourself), you're trying to avoid a critical mass of viruses in your system.
    So, it's exposure * time.
    Breathing doesn't shed a lot of virus, so you would have to be in an enclosed space with that person for a long time, on the order of an hour. Breathing through the nose sheds less than the mouth. Talking sheds more, and coughing is something like 4 orders of magnitude more viruses, with sneezing being two orders more than that.
    So if someone sneezes, get out of there.
    If they're asymptomatic and in contact with your food for two minutes, it seems low risk. They're more at risk from belong in an enclosed space all day with lots of outsiders entering
    In the end, your comfort level should determine whether you stay or go. If you're going to panic about it later, it doesn't seem worth it.

    Absolutely not.

    Cloth face coverings (let's make sure we understand the distinction between those and "masks") currently function as a visible sign of public-spiritedness, conscientiousness, and compliance; and of course current regulations require those of us who can safely do so to wear them in certain public situations.

    They might in fact help to a very small degree to slow the spread of disease, but though it's socially unacceptable to say so, the evidence is minimal. 

    From the Chronicle: "Homemade face coverings may prevent the spread of infected droplets by asymptomatic individuals, but they provide significantly less effective protection than surgical or N95 masks. The CDC primarily recommends using these to keep the wearer’s face clean and reduce the likelihood that people will touch their faces."

    Of course we should wear face coverings ourselves, but it's beyond intrusive to run around acting like amateur enforcers. Remember that stress in itself lowers resistance to disease. 

    We were waiting for takeout at a restaurant.  There was a sign on the door saying all people must wear masks.  A man breezed in with his young son without a mask to pick up his food.  My partner said "you're supposed to wear a mask" and the man screamed "F*** you!!!" in front of all the others waiting (with masks) and his unmasked son.  Wonderful.

    In response to the person who said that cloth masks don't help:

    Reuters (6/9) reports that research suggests “population-wide facemask use could push COVID-19 transmission down to controllable levels for national epidemics and could prevent further waves of the pandemic disease when combined with lockdowns.” The study “suggests lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, but that even homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public.” The findings were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

    I wouldn't bother.  Pre-covid, workers have been exhaling on our food forever and I haven't read anything that suggests that one can get infected by ingesting food with the virus on it.  The face coverings that I've seen in businesses are so loose that even if the nose were covered, everything would come out the sides/top/bottom immediately anyways.  Uncovered, nostrils point downwards so the net effect is probably similar.  If you've ever seen smokestacks, aerosolized particles expand to fill a given space, so whether it shoots down from the nose or around the sides of the mask, I simply assume that I am out of luck if I am within the worker's personal space bubble.  Maybe the worker is inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth?  Anyways, I won't go so far as to say that the health orders are ineffective, but I will say that in the ideal world where people didn't have to buy/produce their own face coverings, the health order would call for properly fitted N95 masks with exhalation valves.  Everyone would be able to protect themselves this way, as comfortably as possible, without relying on someone else to be courteous.  I did a random test measuring my blood oxygen level while sitting in a car doing nothing but engaging with my cellphone while wearing an unvented N95 mask.  After an hour my blood oxygen level fell about 1%.  I'd recommend that you all try the same experiment but while preparing food or cleaning the house, or reorganizing the garage over the course of an hour to see how uncomfortable you get.  It's not fair to judge people on the basis of something horrible that might happen when they are living an unpleasant experience that is definitely happening for lengthy working hours every single work day.  Don't assume that they're ignorant or arrogant.

    I'm in a very high risk group and I feel very upset when I see people not wearing masks appropriately. Especially if they are indoors and/or preparing food for sale.  My doctor has point blank told me to avoid all take out for this very reason--she feels that she routinely seems people doing food prep not wearing the appropriate PPE.  When I have encountered people either outside or in other spaces I have straight up said things to people when they were coming too close to me and not wearing masks or asked people about to pass me if they have a mask and could they put it on.  Many are obliging. But some do not even have masks with them and then I have said, "You are supposed to have a mask in case you have to come close to people."  I've received a wide range of reactions--from friendly and understanding (when they see my 8 month pregnant bell) to people telling me  F off.  I just try to mostly focus on modifying my own behavior to minimize risk but the truth is the mask I wear all the time protects others...so others' masks would actually do much more to protect me.  I wish more people would understand this.  In terms of a business, I would ask for the manager and point it out or call back at a later time and ask for the manager and say that you saw it.  It is not right for businesses to fail to comply and most business owners would be upset I think if they knew folks were not complying and it was (understandably) impacting business. It's definitely hard right now when some people seem to be wanting to return to business as usual and others are still very much following the rules--and the disease rates keep increasing.