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Teachers ask parents for help preparing students to wear masks

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - When schools resume for in-person learning, classroom settings and procedures will look a lot different and teachers will have additional responsibilities added to their plates.

That’s why they’re asking parents for their help.

Most of Michigan is in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan, where school districts will choose whether to return to in-person learning or not.

“Masks are most likely going to be a reality according to the governor’s directive. People are worried about how the children are going to feel about it,” said Jeanne LaFountain, an elementary school paraprofessional in Laingsburg.

But many teachers aren’t sure what the return to school will look like. They’re asking parents to help them prepare for the possibility that children will have to wear masks throughout the day.

"It's one less thing for the teacher to worry about if the kids are thinking this is no big deal, you just have to wear a mask," said LaFountain.

Katie Grass, a first-grade teacher for Grand Ledge Public Schools, said it would help if parents practice with their children.

“We learn a lot of new things at the beginning of the year,” Grass said. “We’re working on routines and just getting to know each other, so if that is happening while they have this new big thing on their face, that could just add to the confusion and stress of it. So if that part were easy, something they were used to, it would probably make things easier.”

Shelby O’Neal is a da Vinci School District teacher and has taught first graders for 14 years. She had advice for parents.

“Just giving them that time to get used to it and a way to do that is just to have like extra masks on hand at your house and let them play,” O’Neal said. “I’ts like a perfect time to show them how to properly put them on and little things like teaching them to wash their hands for 20 seconds and taking their mask and looping it around their ear.”

She also suggested letting kids get creative with their masks and staying positive.

“Just offering that reassurance, you know, it’s going to be okay,” O’Neal said. “It’s going to be great. If this is one thing we can do to get the kids back into the classroom where we know they’re safe, and where we can reach them better, that’s our goal. So I think if it’s wearing a mask, it’s not ideal but it’s I think it’s better to have them close to us.”

The MI Safe Start Roadmap says face-to-face students from Pre-K through 12th grade have to wear masks on buses, in hallways and in common areas of the building except for during meals.

Grades 6-12 have to wear them in the classroom.

As of now, it’s only strongly recommended for younger students to wear them in class.

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