Family health

PSA, parents: This popular style of kids' mask should NEVER be used

Wait! Before you place that bulk order of masks for your kid, make sure you aren't buying these masks that Health Canada says are potentially dangerous.

Back-to-school is right around the corner, and if your child will be attending in-person classes, there’s a good chance you’re currently buying kids’ masks by the dozens (because we all know these masks are going to get lost pretty easily, amiright parents?). This is especially true for parents in Toronto, as the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has now mandated that ALL kids in grades K-12 wear face masks at school—which is a shift from the Ontario government’s recommendation that masks be worn by kids in grades four and up.

While there are plenty of masks on the market that are made to fit little faces, there’s one popular type of mask that you definitely want to avoid while doing your back-to-school shopping: masks with exhalation valves. Put simply: These masks put others at risk.

According to Health Canada’s website, “Masks with exhalation valves are not recommended, because they don’t protect others from COVID-19 and don’t limit the spread of the virus.” This is because the valves “allow infectious respiratory droplets to spread outside the mask.”

This sentiment is echoed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CD) south of the border. “The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material,” says the CDC’s website. “This can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.”

Some people might opt for this mask because the valve makes it easier to breathe, however we now know that the valve renders the mask basically useless. If your kid is going to wear the mask all day, it might as well be effective right? So let all your parent friends know before they spend money on masks with valves (which are probably more expensive in the first place) for their kids. The only way to protect ourselves is to work together to protect each other.

Tip: If your kid is having trouble adjusting to wearing a mask for long period of time, there’s still time left this summer to try out this dad’s genius hack to getting kids acclimated.