GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Back to school will look and feel much different for most kids in West Michigan this fall due to COVID-19.
Especially for those who will be learning in-person: they will need masks to help keep themselves and other students safe.
FOX 17 sat down pediatrician Dr. Michael Kore at Bronson Primary Care Partners in Three Rivers, and he has some great advice for parents heading into the school year.
"You have to explain to kids why they're wearing a mask, and that can be kind of difficult, for especially the toddlers," said Dr. Kore.
Wearing face masks inside public spaces is a sign of the times during the ongoing pandemic, and that includes schools. So, parents will have to make sure their kids have them if they're going back to class, and it may be a tough sell for some.
Dr. Kore said how you talk to your kids about masks needs to be appropriate for the age of the child. "Under the age of three, the kids don't really have a good feeling of why they're wearing a mask," he said. "So, parents, just say, 'Wear the mask while we're doing it. Do it because we want to protect you in love, and we love you.'"
For children from three to five, "you can start to talk about germs that are out there, that we all have germs. and then we want to protect ourselves--ourselves and our children--from other people's germs. And we want to make sure that our germs don't go to other people. And once they understand that, I think they can be a little bit more compliant. It may help them in getting them to wear their masks."
Dr. Kore also says that leading by example is another way to get your kids on board. If they see you wearing one, they'll wear one.
Making it fun can also get you the right result.
"They can play games with masks. For instance, you can put the masks on the parents and the children and then look in the mirror ... You can put a mask on a doll or, or an animal."
The idea is to make the kids feel comfortable wearing masks, so that it's not an issue when school rolls around.
"I think parents can take a large step forward, ensuring their children are critically the lowest risk group for the COVID infection," Dr. Kore observed.
Dr. Kore says it's a good idea for parents to sit down with their kids and have a conversation about going back to school and wearing masks.
Also, make sure their kids masks fit over their noses and mouths and to clean or dispose of them according to the manufacturer's recommendations.