The Canadian government will soon be releasing guidelines and recommendations surrounding mask wearing for children.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam discussed the matter in depth with reporters on Tuesday. A spokesperson from the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed with Daily Hive that the guidelines would be “published later this week.”
Tam says that the approach and process to reopening schools is one of the biggest areas of focus for health officials, with public health, school boards, and parents looking at the “safest way of returning to school.”
She says the recommendation of health officials is to use non-medical face masks to help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and to act as an additional personal layer of protection.
“I believe in recommending the safest way to open schools, masks play a role,” she states.
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Tam also pointed out that while health officials are still learning about how the virus can be transmitted between children, they’re just as susceptible to illness.
“Older children over the age of 10 transmit as well as an adult,” she explains. “Younger kids, even though they transmit at a lower likelihood, can still transmit.
While the guideline has yet to be shared publically, it was hinted that masks would be advised for any children over the age of 10. And while younger children can wear masks if they’d like, Tam acknowledged that it may be more difficult since they need to “develop” and “adjust mentally to wear it.”
She also said that “schools should recommend” masks, pointing out that they’re not just for the benefit of students but for teachers and staff that may be “more susceptible” to illness.
It was also stressed that while masks are an important protective measure, they’re just one level of the “hierarchy of controls.”
Other measures that health officials are looking at include arranging school environments to encourage physical distancing, minimizing the number of contacts and exposures, ensuring that hand hygiene is maintained, and exploring the role of ventilation.
Tam notes that “the recommendations for masks will undergo evolution as the evidence changes.”
“We will also have to see what happens as we understand transmission in different age groups and what happens in schools.”