THE World Health Organisation ( WHO ) has recommended that children over the age of 11 wear a face mask in the same conditions as adults, such as in crowded environments.
“Advice on the use of masks in children and adolescents 12 years and older should follow the WHO recommendations for the use of masks in adults and/or national guidelines on adult masks,” according to the document. Spain has decreed the use of face masks for children six years old, over two million will be back at school in September across Spain and although they are not required in the classroom, the masks must be worn when walking around the school and no large group gatherings of students are allowed.
“Even when applying national guidelines, additional considerations need to be specified for special settings such as schools, during sports or for children with disabilities,” the document adds.
However, even though children between six and 11 years old are not required to wear a mask (except here in Spain) the decision to wear one should be taken into consideration in areas with an ‘Intense virus transmission ‘ or in special settings such as schools. Both agencies explain that there are situations in which masks “can significantly interfere with the learning process and have a negative impact on critical school activities,” they recommend that children up to the age of five who, for whatever reason, have a mask on, be kept under constant supervision.
“Children should also be heard regarding their perceptions and any concerns about the use of a mask,” it says in the document, which maintains fabric face masks as the best option for facial protection, understanding that transparent visors “offer less protection.”
On the incidence of the virus among young people, the WHO indicates that “according to the limited evidence available, young children may have a lower susceptibility to infection compared to adults,” but points out that “the available data suggest that this may vary according to age among children.”
Thus, “transmission studies suggest that older children (eg adolescents) may play a more active role in transmission than children.” Education experts expect a few weeks of ‘settling down’ for students in Spain but do not foresee any serious problems regarding the wearing of masks in schools.