Nearly 100 of the state’s 115 school districts have moved to optional masking, a change Cooper has encouraged.
For some students, the adjustment can cause anxiety, said Dr. Kimberly Montez, assistant professor of pediatrics at Brenner Children’s Hospital.
“We’ve been telling students for two years that they should wear a mask because it protects them from this invisible threat, and now we’re telling them to take that mask off,” Montez said. “Change is difficult for anyone, including children. I think talking with children about what is happening is extremely important.”
She recommended that parents tell their children that masks may need to come back if COVID cases start to rise again. In such a conversation, a parent may compare wearing a mask to wearing a coat. When it’s cold, you wear a coat; when the temperature gets hot, you take off the coat.
Montez said there are many reasons families may choose to keep their children masked. Individual choices must be respected, she said. Parents may want to explain to their children that some of their classmates or teachers might need to wear a mask due to their vulnerable health.
“Recognizing these differences is important for children,” she said. “We are concerned about the potential for bullying, so I think parents can help by talking to their children about being respectful to children and families and the choices they have to make.”