Province to give Quebec daycare educators transparent masks to boost kids' language learning

Family Minister Mathieu Lacombe said on Thursday each educator will have at least two disposable window masks every day. The masks will also be distributed to home childcare service providers.

Family Minister Mathieu Lacombe says educators will have at least 2 disposable window masks daily

Educator Nadine Faniel wears a "window" mask while working with toddlers. The Quebec government is going to make these types of masks more widely available to daycare educators. ( Pascal Poinlane/Radio-Canada)

Quebec's daycare educators will soon have access to masks with transparent windows designed to allow kids to better see their mouths.

Family Minister Mathieu Lacombe said on Thursday that each educator will have at least two disposable window masks every day. The masks will also be distributed to home childcare service providers.

"When pediatricians tell us that children being unable to see the lips of their educators is damaging, but at the same time, we have public health telling us masks must be worn, that worried me a lot," says Lacombe.

"It's reassuring to know that children will be able to read the lips of their educators."

With daycare staff forced to wear masks, doctors and educators had been sounding the alarm over the potential impact on language learning.

The window masks are designed to help children learn and develop language, something research has shown is hindered when mouths are hidden.

Hundreds of thousands of masks will therefore be needed every week to equip all the educators, but Lacombe said the first step will be to put out a call for tenders. He was unable to estimate the cost.

Québec solidaire MNA Christine Labrie, the critic responsible for families, said it "took more than three months and a lot of perseverance on our part for the minister to take the means to honour his commitment."

She said she would have liked to see the decision to have been made faster, but she welcomes the family minister's announcement.

"This is an important gesture that will limit the impact of the pandemic on children," she said. 

"The sooner these masks are delivered to child care, the better, because every week is important in the development of young children."

with files from Radio-Canada

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