Children's Hospital Colorado

Masks for Kids: What You Need to Know

Two kids wearing masks

The pandemic is getting better, but it’s not yet over. The good news? Safe and effective vaccines are preventing the most serious cases of COVID-19 in people who are fully vaccinated. We have come a long way since March 2020.

The COVID-19 vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, but we know they don’t prevent all infections. And recently, the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus caused another surge in cases and hit unvaccinated individuals especially hard. Even with our strongest tool against the new coronavirus yet, vaccines, we still need more people – including children – to get vaccinated. Until we have very low levels of the coronavirus circulating in communities, masks will remain an important tool for preventing COVID-19, especially during times of high transmission.

We spoke with several of our experts in pediatric infectious disease, pediatric pulmonology, child and adolescent psychology and child life to get the nitty-gritty details on face coverings for kids: when to mask up, which kind to wear and how to set your kid up for success.

To mask or not to mask?

Two years into the pandemic, most of us are as tired of masks as we are of COVID-19. Though we’re all weary, it helps to focus on what we can control. The most effective strategies for preventing COVID-19 remain the same:

  • Getting fully vaccinated and keeping up with booster guidance
  • Masking indoors in public, especially during times of high risk
  • Watching for symptoms, getting tested and staying home when sick
  • Ensuring proper indoor ventilation
  • Good and frequent hand-washing

Is it time to do away with masking?

Not yet. We should expect the need for indoor masking to ebb and flow based on community transmission, and it’s unlikely that public health authorities will stop recommending masking entirely until transmission is very low across the board.

The CDC continues to advise that all individuals wear masks while indoors in areas where the coronavirus is spreading quickly. This includes many areas of the U.S. and Colorado. The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics and other public health organizations currently advise all children to wear masks in schools. What’s different now is that many mask mandates are expiring, leaving decisions to individuals and families.

Even if your state, county, city or school does not require masks, you may decide that wearing a mask is the right decision for you and your children for reasons such as: the transmission rate in your area, your own health, the vaccination status of members of your household and the level of risk you’re willing to take.

Dive into the details – and nuances – below.

The latest

Face coverings, masks and respirators

With omicron still spreading in many areas, it’s a good time to assess the masks your child is wearing and consider any upgrades that would offer enhanced protection.

Face coverings 101: the evidence

We get it. Wearing a mask can be a nuisance. But face coverings are still critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping everyone safe. This isn’t opinion – it’s based on the best available science, which researchers around the globe and our experts are evaluating daily. Here are some common questions and misconceptions to clear up.

Face masks for kids: the nuances

As with all things, guidelines for kids and face coverings aren’t one-size-fits-all; there are nuances. So we outlined some specific situations and asked our experts for their guidance based on the best-available evidence thus far.

Masks and mental health, asthma and other conditions

Tips for getting your kids to mask up

Sometimes (well, oftentimes) it takes practice and influence to change your child’s behavior. We rounded up tips for getting your kid used to wearing their face covering.

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