School systems across the Triad are lifting their indoor mask mandates and making it optional, including Guilford County and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Health experts say after telling children they had to wear masks in school for so long, the change can create anxiety.
Families are considering several factors in their decisions. Those could include the health status of their child, a vulnerable family member, and if they've been vaccinated or not.
Dr. Kimberly Montez is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Brenner Children's Hospital, part of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.
She says kids need to feel safe. Montez recommends explaining that virus case numbers are declining and asking kids how they feel. Montez says, for those who don't feel comfortable, it's OK to remove the mask in stages.
“Acknowledging those differences is important for kids and talking about them and also for really emphasizing the importance of respect for people's choice," says Montez. "We are concerned about the potential for bullying and so I think parents can talk with their children about being respectful of children and the families and the choices that they have to make.”
Montez says masks are like a winter coat, and they could be needed again.
Face coverings will be required in certain cases. Students and staff who return to school after testing COVID-positive for example. And masks must still be worn on school buses because of federal regulation.
Other districts in the Piedmont area that recently adopted a mask optional policy are Wilkes County Schools, Alamance-Burlington Schools and Davidson County Schools.
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