RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With children heading back to school just as COVID-19 is surging in our state, many districts have put mask mandates in place.
But with the ultra-contagious delta variant, are some masks better than others when it comes to protecting children?
Anakin Nelson doesn’t mind wearing his mask.
“He’s really good about it,” explained his dad, Gabriel Nelson. “Forgets he even has them on, and we have to remind him to take them off.”
Dr. Emily Sickbert-Bennet, the director of infection prevention for UNC Medical Center, says comfort is especially important for children. She has extensively researched masks throughout the pandemic.
When it comes to kids, she says you have to find a mask they’re willing to wear properly all day long.
“A mask does no good to you if it’s not comfortable and you’re apt to be taking it off or pulling it down to let your nose hang out,” she explained.
With the delta variant surging, some masks with extra filtration are selling out, but Dr. Sickbert-Bennett says for children, the fit of the mask is just as important.
“The things you want to look at, in terms of how it fits, are there gaps around the sides? Do you have ear loops that can be tightened so that you minimize the gaps on the side and then the nose piece at the top,” she said.
She added that adults and children can improve the fit and effectiveness of some masks by knotting the ear loops, or wearing a cloth mask over a procedural mask to minimize any gaps — if wearing two layers is tolerable.
This video shows how to properly knot the ear loops and tuck in the sides of the mask for improved fit.
“It’s much better to keep it on consistently than to try to increase your layers and constantly be taking it off for breaks,” Dr. Sickbert-Bennett said.
“That was the key, just getting one that’s comfortable,” said Nelson.
Knowing Anakin is comfortable wearing his mask makes his dad feel more comfortable, too.