There’s a new rule out starting this week in Connecticut: all kids 3 and up have to wear a mask while in child care. The state says the change is based on new research out of Massachusetts General Hospital that finds young children are actually more likely to spread Covid-19 than other age groups, overturning a widely adopted belief that children are less likely to carry and spread the virus.
Also in response, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its mask guidelines to say that all children over 2 should wear masks.
How do FCC Providers in CT feel about the change? It’s a mixed bag. Some are fine—their kids already wear masks. Others are anxious that it’ll be hard to get the kids and their parents on board.
And Providers elsewhere are wondering: is my state next?
What are Providers saying?
Some Providers feel satisfied with the change—they’ve already implemented a mask policy of their own and the kids have it locked down.
“My families are 100% on board with the new mask mandate. Actually, most of the children have been coming in wearing masks since we reopened in July,” shared one CT Provider on Facebook.
But for many, the change raises several concerns. Another Provider on Facebook claimed the new regulation is frustrating because it lacks Providers’ input.
“They should be contacting childcare providers and asking them what has worked for them. And stop this everything looks good on paper stuff. I have been open this entire time, staff and teachers wear masks not children,” they argued. “Plus, how can we expect young kids to wear masks for 10 hours straight?!”
And a third Provider feels anxious that the mandate will affect her enrollment if the parents in her program do not feel comfortable with their young child wearing a mask.
“We had several parents since March enroll just because their children didn’t have to wear masks,” the Provider explained. “Some said if it ever became mandatory they would unenroll.”
Overall, a lot of Providers feel a bit of whiplash with frequent changes in policies. And some aren’t so sure about the new regulations, because guidance from the CDC and Academy of Pediatrics has missed the mark before.
Earlier this summer, AAP said “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” At the time, they recommended requiring middle and high school students to wear masks, not children elementary school-age or younger.
Lastly, there is data showing that, so far, Covid transmission rates within child care settings are notably low. In August, the CDC published a study of all Rhode Island child care programs within a two-month period. The results showed that only 4 out of 666 had Covid cases that included the possible spread of the virus within the child care setting.
But CT isn’t taking any risks. And while this new requirement does feel sudden—it was only announced a week before it was enacted—CT realizes perfect mask-wearing isn’t going to happen overnight. Starting today, they’re building in a 4-week grace period for Providers to work with families and teach children how to properly wear a mask.
Will other states follow suit?
To see how other states are reacting to Connecticut’s new mask requirements, we reached out to the EEC in Massachusetts for comment. They did not respond to our request.
But many Mass. Providers are already ahead of the new AAP guidelines. Some predicted changes to mask rules and have required them from the start.
“I told my parents to have their kids get used to masks before I reopened because I figure a mandate is coming,” mentioned one MA Provider on Facebook.
And to many FCC Providers, an extra safety measure isn’t all that bad. Another MA Provider said they wouldn’t be fazed by a change in mask requirements.
“Kids are so adaptable, they get used to the masks quickly,” they explained. “It’s such a small thing that can make a big difference in keeping everyone healthy.”
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