World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently put out recommendations on children wearing masks.
These recommendations are for 3 different age groups and were made with children’ psychosocial needs and developmental milestones in mind.
Children 5 Years Old and Under
In general, children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks. This advice is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance. There may be local requirements for children aged 5 years and under to wear masks, or specific needs in some settings, such as being physically close to someone who is ill. In these circumstances, if the child wears a mask, a parent or other guardian should be within direct line of sight to supervise the safe use of the mask.
Children 6 Years Old To 11 Years Old
For children aged 6-11 should be based on the following factors:
- Whether there is widespread transmission in the area where the child resides
- The ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask
- Access to masks, as well as laundering and replacement of masks in certain settings (such as schools and childcare services)
- Adequate adult supervision and instructions to the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks
- The potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers
- Specific settings and interactions the child has with other people who are at high risk of developing a serious illness, such as the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions
Children 12 Years Old and Over
Children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.
Children With Developmental Disabilities
The use of masks for children of any age with developmental disorders, disabilities or other specific health conditions should not be mandatory and be assessed on a case by case basis by the child’s parent, guardian, educator and/or medical provider. In any case, children with severe cognitive or respiratory impairments with difficulties tolerating a mask should not be required to wear masks.
Children With Health/ Medical Conditions
Children with underlying health conditions such as cystic fibrosis or cancer should wear a medical mask in consultation with their medical providers. A medical mask provides protection to the person wearing the mask and prevents transmission to others. It is recommended for anyone who has underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of serious illness.
Wearing A Mask While Playing Sport and During Physical Exercise
Children should not wear a mask when playing sports or doing physical activities, such as running, jumping or playing on the playground, so that it doesn’t compromise their breathing. When organizing these activities for children, it is important to encourage all other critical public health measures: maintaining at least a 1-metre distance from others, limiting the number of children playing together, providing access to hand hygiene facilities and encouraging their use.
Types Of Mask That Children Should Wear
Children who are in general good health can wear a non-medical or fabric mask. This provides source control, meaning it keeps the virus from being transmitted to others if they are infected and are not aware that they are infected. The adult who is providing the mask should ensure the fabric mask is the correct size and sufficiently covers the nose, mouth and chin of the child.
Children with underlying health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cancer or immunosuppression, should, in consultation with their medical providers, wear a medical mask. A medical mask controls the spreading of the virus and protection to the wearer and is recommended for anyone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.
Children And Masks Related To COVID-19, Department Of Communication, WHO Global