Across Texas, most students from kindergarten through 12th grade have returned to school under very different conditions than the year before thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although many students are taking classes virtually, in-person classes are also in session.
Therefore, you might be getting questions or concerns from parents or guardians about their child wearing a mask in school.
To ensure you have the tools to advise families on how to stay safe at school, the Texas Medical Association and Texas Pediatric Society (TPS) have developed a letter that you can give to your patients with guidance about wearing masks.
The letter, which you can customize to fit your practice, emphasizes the importance of wearing masks to control the spread of COVID-19. It also includes recommendations on how to encourage children to wear a mask properly, including:
- Practicing wearing masks at home;
- Offering stickers or small rewards for keeping masks on;
- Working with school counselors or psychologists for children with sensory issues or anxiety; and
- Being a good role model by wearing masks.
The letter also strongly encourages physicians not to provide mask exemption letters or to sign exemption forms unless certain conditions are met.
The conditions are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics that anyone 2 years of age and older wear a mask – with very few exceptions.
"TPS and TMA believe it is crucial for pediatricians to underscore the importance of masks," TMA President Diana Fite, MD, said in a letter to physicians, which was co-signed by TPS President Tammy Camp, MD. "Therefore, we encourage practices not to provide mask exemption letters or sign mask exemption forms for children unless certain conditions are present."
However, if you determine that one or more of the exceptions for mask exemption are met, TMA and TPS have created a customizable form you can use to give to patients.
If you’re looking for more ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as students return to classes, check out the “School Reopening” section on the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center.
TMA also has created a COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit that includes a variety of posts, graphics, and information that you can share to your own social media pages.