WATCH — Should I change my mask as often as I change my underwear?

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-08-28 13:24

Here are some answers to your questions about masks

As you get ready to head back to school, you probably have a lot of questions.

After all, this is the first time you or anyone you know will be going to school during a pandemic.

CBC Kids News is publishing a series of articles to help you get ready for the 2020-2021 school year.

We spoke to Cathy Egan, a professor at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., who is certified in infection prevention to answer some of the questions you’ve probably been wondering about masks.

Watch this video and read the Q&A below:

Should I change my mask as often as I change my underwear?

OK, so maybe that’s not your exact question, but you’re probably wondering how often you need to change your mask.

You should change your mask at least once a day.

That means that you should put it in the laundry when you get home.

If you only have a few masks and your family does laundry once a week, Egan suggests washing it by hand on its own.

Kids wearing masks walk up a staircase.

Get used to wearing a mask at school! These kids in Germany have been back in school since Aug. 12 and they have been wearing masks. (Image credit: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

How many masks should I take to school?

You should take two masks to school so you have a back-up.

Change your mask if it gets dirty or wet.

If you’re wondering where to get a mask, many provinces have said they will be giving students at least two masks.

Where should I keep my mask when I’m not wearing it?

When you’re not wearing your mask, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends you place it in a paper bag, then leave it on your desk, in your locker or in your backpack.

Why not plastic?  A plastic bag keeps moisture in and bacteria could grow.

Egan also said you could label your paper bag so you don’t get it mixed up with your friends’ masks.

Students stand in a hallway wearing masks.

Students in secondary schools in the Netherlands have been required to wear masks. (Image credit: Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/ANP/AFP/Getty Images)

How should I handle the mask?

It’s best to only touch the straps when you take it on and off and when handling it.

“Your germs are on the inside and someone else’s germs could be on the outside,” said Egan. “You could spread germs if you’re touching the part that goes on your face.”

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put it on and after you take it off.

2 boys wearing masks.

Always make sure your mask covers your nose and mouth. (Image credit: Andreas Arnold/dpa/The Associated Press)

What kind of mask should I wear?

Reusable masks work well and the more layers, the better. (At least two is ideal.)

Medical masks can’t be washed and need to be thrown out when they get dirty.

Find a mask that fits tightly around your face, so air moves through it, not around it.

Some masks have pockets to include a paper towel or coffee filter, which helps reduce the spread of germs.

Why do some kids in Grade 4 and under not need to wear masks?

In a lot of provinces, masks aren’t recommended for younger kids.

“It's not a bad idea for everybody to be wearing them,” said Egan, “but it does become a bad idea if a kindergarten child starts playing with their mask with dirty hands.”

Grade 4 is likely the age when authorities figure kids are old enough to follow the rules and guidelines on masks, said Egan.

Why do I even need to wear a mask at all?

At first, masks weren’t recommended, but now they are.

As scientists learn more about COVID-19, they’re changing their guidelines.

A teacher wearing a face shield stands at the front of the class, where kids are all wearing masks.

Grade 5 students at a school in Ohio wear masks in class . (Image credit: Luke Gronneberg/The Daily News/The Associated Press)

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends staying two metres away from others, but in school it’s hard to keep your distance from your friends and teachers.

That’s why masks are recommended in school.

Masks prevent you from spreading germs to others.

But it’s also important to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

Do you have more questions about going back to school? Check out these articles:

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