Children in kindergarten and older to now wear face masks in public settings

WILMINGTON — As Delaware families consider a safe return to school, Gov. John Carney and the Division of Public Health on Monday announced an update to Delaware’s face coverings guidance for children. 

All children who are in kindergarten or older must wear face coverings in public settings, including school buildings, according to the updated DPH guidance. 

All children 2 years of age and older are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in public. Children younger than 2 must not wear face coverings due to suffocation risk. A child with a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents the child from wearing a face covering is not required to wear one.

The updated guidance will be included this week in a modification to Governor Carney’s State of Emergency order.

“The evidence could not be more clear that wearing face coverings is the best thing we can all do to keep our communities healthy,” Gov. Carney said in a prepared statement. “I know masks can be uncomfortable at times for children and adults. But if we stay vigilant and work together, we’ll continue to make real progress against this virus.”

The State of Delaware will not enforce mask use among children, but encourages parents to refer to materials from DPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information on wearing face coverings properly, and the benefits of wearing a face covering during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.

“Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics are emphasizing now more than before that face coverings can be safely and easily worn by the vast majority of children,” Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the DPH, said in a prepared statement. “Newer studies convey that all age groups are susceptible to infection. The good news is the most infections in the younger age group of 5 – 10 appear to be mild. And although spread from this age group to others appears low, it still may occur. Therefore, use of face coverings in this age group is an important measure that can help prevent that spread.”