HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Most school districts are planning on in-person learning, meaning kids will come to school and wear a mask for most of the day. But, with so many kinds of masks to choose from, many parents are now trying to figure out which is the right mask to get.
The Lombardi kids know how important masks are for back to school.
12-year-old Bella Lombardi said, “We’ve tried to become accustomed to it and make it part of our daily routine, especially with the activities that we’re doing.”
And they have lots of masks for different ages and activities. The only way in-person schooling is going to work is if everybody wears one.
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Doctor Nicole Murray from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is an expert in PPE and a mom.
“I care about your health,” Murray said. “I’m going to wear my mask to protect you. And you care about my health, so you’re going to wear your mask to protect me. It’s a pact between human beings and it is the best weapon we have against the virus right now.”
We asked her to run down the best kinds of masks for kids.
“A 3-ply surgical paper mask probably does offer the best protection over a cloth mask,” Murray recommends.
And if you were curious, yes, they do come in child sizes. Most have a metal strip at the top that molds to your face for a better fit.
Another kind of face mask is the sewn cloth mask that ties behind the head.
“It is one layer of a soft t-shirt, jersey kind of fabric. This is not the most protective,” Murray said.
Thinner still is the neck gaiter. Not great for protection.
Murray adds, “It’s thin, it’s fashionable. it’s easy to pull up over your nose and your mouth.”
We keep hearing about N-95 masks. They provide great protection for medical professionals, but only after they have been measured and tested to ensure a proper fit.
“I am not confident that this is protecting me until I have a fit test. I can get that through the hospital. The general public can’t get that,” Murray said.
As for the straps that pull ears forward, there are a lot of devices you can buy or make that go behind the neck.
Murray said she made one using, “a headband that I put safety pins on, folded it up, it’s nice and cushiony.”
Back at the Lombardi’s, 4 year-old London is fine with masks.
“I like it…Because it has flowers on it.”
And that may be the deciding factor for many kids – whether the look and feel make them want to wear it because a mask only works if they keep it on.
“Wearing the mask all day consistently is going to be a win over a child who maybe has a mask that is a little bit more protective, but they hate it and they’re taking it off as soon as you’re outside the room,” Murray said.
So the simple surgical masks seem to be the most effective, but the best mask for your kid is the one they are going to put on and keep on all day.