Will students need to wear masks to school in the fall?
OTTAWA -- Parents and kids are waiting to find out what classes will look like when school resumes in the fall during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an effort to safely get kids back into class in September, the Ontario Government asked Toronto's Sick Kids' Hospital for guidance.
The children’s hospital has started the conversation, suggesting not all students need to wear masks in class to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, not all experts agree with the recommendation.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy says that, "We’re also going to have to explore whether kids that are maybe older than age five, may want to wear masks."
The guidelines, released earlier this week, cover topics such as Screening for Symptoms; Hand Hygiene; Physical Distancing; Cohorting; Cleaning and Ventilation; Special Considerations, such as medical conditions; as well as, the use of masks.
While public health officials have urged people to wear face masks when out in public, the Sick Kids’ guidelines say it’s impractical to expect children to wear them properly.
Dr. Sharkawy thinks it is something that will need to be looked at further.
"You can separate desks, but at some point, you’re going to have some degree of mixing - whether that’s during breaks, and when you’re taking about that happening in an indoor setting, I think we want to take whatever steps we can to mitigate that risk."
He also thinks there is something missing from the report.
"I don’t think you can have a blanket recommendation for older teenagers that applies accurately and appropriately to those that are four, five, six years old - it’s an entirely different set of risk circumstances."
Saying that the recommendations are a good starting point to get kids back to school in the fall; something, which Dr. Nisha Thampi, the medical director of infection prevention and control at CHEO, agrees with.
"Educators can’t do this on their own, clinicians can’t do this on their own; but this is a start."
Dr. Thampi saying there is still much to do before kids go back, but these are important steps to take,
"The premise here is that children need to return to school."