Let Me M-Ask You A Question…
We are receiving many phone calls and portal messages regarding mask requirements/exemptions for children in school.
As noted in guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health departments, cloth face masks are an important tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19. When feasible, and especially in situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained, school-aged children should wear face masks in compliance with school and/or local government requirements.
Isn’t My Child Too Young To Wear A Mask All Day?
No. Kids are more adaptable to change than adults! This is their “new norm” and they are more likely to adapt to more consistent face mask use if modeled by adults and peers. Younger children may have more difficulty than older children with keeping a mask on for extended periods of time and/or avoiding frequent touching of the mask. Schools may choose to use a variety of strategies to provide “mask breaks” while optimizing physical distancing.
Developmentally appropriate adaptation to wearing a face mask does NOT justify provision of a medical exemption for the use of a mask.
Speaking of Medical Exemptions For Masks…
From a physiologic standpoint, we are unaware of any cardiac or respiratory medical conditions that would prohibit a student from wearing a cloth face mask at school. This means that a diagnosis of asthma is NOT a reason for a medical exemption. In reality, any child with any underlying cardiac or respiratory condition needs to be wearing their mask as much as possible to keep them healthy!
As noted in AAP and CDC guidance, the only time a child should not wear a face mask is if they are unable to remove the mask independently. In limited circumstances, there may exist a physical or intellectual condition that would justify a medical exemption for wearing a mask in school, based on this rationale. These may include children with severe autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, or other cognitive developmental delays.
Mask exemptions are going to be determined by the NYS Department of Health, and our office will be abiding by their parameters. This information is still not readily available to us, so please continue to check the website for the most up to date information.
Bottom line: Mask exemptions are going to be few and far between.
If You Have a Question, The Portal Is Your Best Choice!
We understand that there are a lot of unanswered questions right now and we are doing our best to provide answers. Please consider sending any non-urgent questions to the Patient Portal to help decrease the number of phone calls we are receiving.
If you do not have the Patient Portal set up, please call our office and we’d be happy to walk you through the steps! This is the most efficient way to receive a timely response.