As students prepare to go to school, wearing a mask might have to become a common practice for students.
With communities across South Dakota releasing back to school plans, and Gov. Kristi Noem making statements about the use of masks in the classroom, parents have to decide where they stand on the mask debate and how they can help their child prepare to head back to school.
“I know there’s a lot of anxiety amongst teachers, parents, coaches, you know, on kids returning to school,” said David Mueller, a pediatrician with Black Hills Pediatrics. “What a lot of the data is showing is that kids, in general, aren’t super contagious with this virus.”
“Practice makes perfect,” said Mueller. “I would start now getting them in the habit of wearing a mask, anytime you go out in public just have them wear a mask and then just monitor their behavior. I can tell you in my office, I’ve been watching this over the last month or so with kids coming in here with the masks, we see a lot of playing with the mask, touching the mask.”
Mueller also addressed concerns over the longer-term effects of wearing a mask every day to school.
“I know there’s a lot of information out there on social media and whatnot, talking about lower oxygen levels and increased CO2 levels and the danger of that, and really the evidence is pointing toward that really is not a concern,” he said.
Nicole Burdick, a mother, says her daughters want some normalcy and are willing to wear masks in school to get that back.
“For us, it’s been more of kindness, you know, we don’t know what we have so let’s just be respectful of other people and it’s been pretty easy for my daughters to be like, ‘Alright, we’ll just wear our masks, it’s not a big deal’ and once they started doing it, after several days and of course being at camp and they have to wear the masks then, it’s just gotten easier and easier,” Burdick said.
Mueller said wearing a mask appropriately is a concern but said doing so will help to contain and lessen COVID’s spread.
Wearing a mask properly might be hard for children, but Burdick said she and her middle school-aged daughter have plans to decorate theirs. That way, when she heads back to school, she can feel confident while also staying healthy.