Kids masks and keeping safe at a Red Traffic light setting in New Zealand.

New Zealand is currently sitting within the ‘Red Traffic Light’ framework, meaning masks are mandated for all children Year 4 and up while at school and in a close contact setting. With a shift in settings and heightened sense of uncertainty in recent weeks, Kiwi parents and kids are faced having to adapt to a ‘new normal’, and at pace.

Its no secret that the pandemic has presented many challenges for our Tamariki here in Aotearoa, adapting to change and a ‘new normal’ poses its own set of challenges for children, mask usage and its adoption being one of them.

So what are some ways we can help our kids stay safe? What masks are appropriate and how can we ensure we’re taking the pressure off our children as they head back into school amidst an outbreak?

1 . Have kind conversations.

Having open ended conversations where children are encouraged to ask questions and voice their concerns is not only important, it builds confidence for our Tamariki as they make sense of our current situation. Use reassuring language and ensure you’re helping them understand the importance of what they’re doing, not just for themselves but for everyone around them. Telling our kids how proud we are of them for being brave and masking up goes a long way,

Having discussions with your local health provider can also go a long way in setting best practise and how to approach the situation as it progresses and changes throughout different level settings.

RNZ wrote a great article here worth checking out on helping children get the most protection out of wearing a face mask as well.

2. Wear one, have a spare.

The University of Cantebury has recently published a ‘How to guide’ for parents in relation to face masks for children.

University of Canterbury Associate Professor of Epidemiology Dr Arindam Basu from the School of Health Sciences, recommends the following in terms of how many masks children should be taking to school

“At least two masks, because children can be outdoors and are prone to touch their masks. If the mask gets soiled or wet, it is important to change the mask. “

This also takes the pressure of children who can rest assured that they always have a spare if the one they are wearing is misplaced or damaged in any way.

3. Keep comfort and breathability in mind

If its uncomfortable to wear, chances are kids will feel less enthusiastic about using a mask. Finding a mask that fits well (minimising air leakage) whilst being breathable can be a challenge. For kids who find mask wear a bit tricky to navigate, we recommend the MEO GUARD for kids which offers great protection and comfort all in one. It offers KN95 certified protection and comes in some great designs kids will absolutely love too.

Lastly and most importantly we applaud and thank all of our parents and caregivers out there sending their children back to school and navigating these uncertain times. Kia Kaha to you all from the entire team at MEO.