CLEVELAND — Many school districts across Northeast Ohio have decided to begin this 2020-2021 school year with students and teachers remotely as cases of the coronavirus continue to climb throughout the state. But, some are moving forward with in-person instruction and that means students must wear masks while inside the classroom.
It's just one concern on the minds of parents as they prepare for a unique learning experience.
Erin Wallace, from Lakewood, is a mom of two children. Wallace said for the last several weeks she has mulled over the decision to send her kids back to school or keep them home.
“It's been a really tough decision. Something I've been losing sleep over," she said.
Wallace said after many discussions, her family has decided it's best to have both children in the classroom. The mom of a 5-year-old and 7-year-old said she supports mask-wearing, but added that she is concerned about the spread of germs stemming from the face coverings.
"We've been practicing, so I'm not worried," she said. "My biggest concern is that they would be touching it all the time with their hands and then touching their desk or touching something that another student might touch or vice versa."
Katie Toporowsky is an elementary teacher in Cleveland. She, too, is concerned.
“We’re kind of talking about the T-system to eliminate touching your face as much as possible with your eyes, your nose, your mouth," she said. "We all know that kids do that all day every day. They have stuffy notes or they come in with a cold. How is that going to look?”
But Cleveland Clinic Children's pediatrician Dr. Amy Sniderman said kids will adjust, but the practice has to start before the classroom. “Kids are so resilient, they're so adaptable," she said.
Dr. Sniderman's advice for parents: don't panic and lead by example. She suggested parents wearing them alongside their children and explaining why it's important. She stressed having a positive attitude and being conscious of tone.
“Make it fun. Don't make it something that's punitive or a punishment," Dr. Sniderman said. "Just be overall as positive as you can about it because kids really do pick up on the tone of things and again are willing to adapt. Usually in most circumstances, even in kind of more challenging, challenging tasks like wearing a mask.”
She reminded parents to practice properly, making sure the mask is covering both the mouth and nose.