LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As Fayette County Public Schools and other school districts return to in-person learning, kids have to adjust to being back in the classroom. That means extended mask-wearing, which could be a challenging transition for students who aren't used to wearing masks for a long period of time.
“For many young children, it's just been for short visits or maybe they've been home the entire time,” said Justin Lane, an associate professor of special education in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Counselor Education.
So how can parents encourage kids to keep their masks on?
Lane says parents should explain why masks are worn, instead of just telling kids to do so. He says to be direct and explain the health and safety benefits.
“But you want to do this in the child's target language level, so if they are a young kid, you don't need to go on and on and on and on and use complex language and such. You just really want to focus on a brief explanation and use really clear and concrete examples,” said Lane.
Also, while kids have to wear masks in school, letting them choose the color or pattern makes the experience more enjoyable. With different styles and fabrics, it may take some trial and error to find the right one that feels comfortable throughout the day.
Lane says leading by example and positive reinforcement also encourage proper mask-wearing behavior. Focusing on the positive is what teachers and staff at Scott County Schools have been doing since they reopened a few weeks ago.
“The positives being this is an opportunity to keep ourselves healthy, to keep others healthy and again, for us to be able to remain in person,” said Assistant Superintendent of Operations Billy Parker.
Parker says sometimes reminders to keep a mask on correctly are needed, but he says offering kids a small break from wearing their masks helps make it easier to get through the school day without too many challenges.
“There are opportunities throughout the school day for students to get out of their classrooms and if the weather permits, get outside a little bit,” he said. “It does impact the instructional time, but hey, we're in-person, so we understand that we'll get a little bit of time so everybody can get a little bit of a breather.”