MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Darnesha Castleberry of Mobile, a mother of four, has concerns about sending her children back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her 13 year old son, Desmond Mickels, will begin 8th grade and her 8 year old daughter, Jahavyn Hill starts 3rd grade this year.
“With them being kids, they’re not going to want to keep a mask on all day,” said Castleberry who also has an 18 month old son and a 3 month old daughter.
She started early talking to Desmond and Jahavyn about being careful when returning to school so they don’t become infected nor bring home germs that would make their younger siblings sick.
“My son’s pretty good about hand hygiene and not spreading illness..but she’ll be my biggest concern with that,” said Castleberry.
Jahayvn is immunocompromised, and doesn’t like wearing a mask.
“It kind of itches me sometimes,” said Jahayvn who also says it makes it hard for her to breathe.
Talerico says studies show you can breathe very well through a mask by taking longer, deeper breaths instead of short ones.
“What they need to do is start learning to wear the mask now so what you can do is desensitize the children,” said AltaPointe Child Psychiatrist Dr. Christina Telerico. She encourages parents to have the children wear the masks at home while doing something fun such as watching T.V.
She also recommends having your child practice wearing a mask in front of a mirror so they can see what they look like and realize their friends can still recognize them.
‘”One of the things that you can do is practice sticking out your tongue out at each other and be like, hey, see you won’t get in trouble for sticking out your tongue at Johnny anymore,” said Talerico.
Also, the doctor suggests allowing them to choose their face covering and make some to put on their toys.
“I put grumpy bear with a mask on to show the children they could practice it. You could make your own mask with masking tape or yarn or something like that. They could put on their favorite action hero of their favorite doll,” said Talerico.
The key is for parents to start preparing their children now.
“It’s important for you to ask them questions and see where their head space is. So you can kind of guide and know where you need to go wit the conversation,” Castleberry said.
“It’s better for children to know that you’re fearful as well, and that you’re scared for friends..but, you have control over what you can do to protect yourself including hand washing, wearing a masks, and staying six feet away from others.”
“I think it’s very serious. I need to wear a mask. I don’t want to catch it and I don’t want my friends to catch it. I want everyone to stay safe and take precautions for it,” said Desmond.
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