• Abby Bennett

Effects of Masks on Lower-Elementary Students

The arising COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone around us in our daily lives and community. The face mask mandate in school is not the easiest. Concerns have come up in regards to elementary kids wearing masks on the topic of child development, speech, language, and social skills. Masks for kids can be difficult in helping them recognize emotions and aid in social interactions. However, kids have very unique learning capabilities and will find other ways to communicate.

I am 16 years old and COVID-19 started about a year ago. For everyone who is living in this crazy world, COVID-19 is one of the biggest current impacts on human lives. I am still adapting and learning how to get through it just like everyone else. I give credit to the elementary school teachers for everything that they do, but adding the stress of a pandemic to their lives and teaching styles is something that nobody had signed up for. While the teachers are adapting and changing their teaching techniques, the kids also are adapting to their new way of life.

I reached out to my past 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Burke, who teaches at Jeffers Elementary in Spring Lake. She had a lot to say about the mask situation for kids. Something that caught my attention was how well she said kids are adapting to masks. Kids are forced to speak louder and clearer and use much more expressive body language while communicating with others. However, masks have created a very large emotional barrier between Mrs. Burke and her students. The smiles of teachers and their students are hidden, so the laughs that are usually shared in class have decreased.

Another teacher that I reached out to is my past kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Taylor. She expressed that kids are adapting to masks very well - they are wearing them without complaint. Mrs. Taylor also said that, “Sometimes the kids need an extra hand just in case their masks get too wet or dirty.”

Though the mask situation is a struggle, in-school learning is so important for kids because they need one-on-one interaction to develop and learn.