Back to school: How many face masks do kids really need?

The CDC recommends kids over age 2 should wear a mask when in public.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
Expertise Personal Finance: Social Security and taxes
Katie Teague
2 min read

Your kids may need several face masks when going back to school.

Anne Dujmovic/CNET

While many kids have been back in school for months, some have been completing their assignments and following along remotely. However, as many schools prepare to reopen for the first time, there are many changes and protocols that schools must follow to protect students and teachers from the spread of coronavirus.

One of the most important protocols that will need to be followed is wearing face masks. This is because, while many teachers have been vaccinated, no kids under age 16 have received the COVID-19 vaccine. (Here's when the vaccine could be approved for kids). Until that happens, wearing a face mask is one of many ways to help prevent transmission of COVID-19.

As you prepare for your kids to return to school, here are some other essential items they will need for back to school. Additionally, 16 important do's and don'ts for getting your COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine side effects: What's normal and what to look out for.

Watch this: Your phone might be a powerful tool to help stop the coronavirus

How many face masks do my kids need to bring to school?

There's really no set number of masks your kids need to bring to school. It's up to you and your child to determine how many they should bring. For instance, if they tend to sweat quite a bit throughout the day, you may want to pack a few moisture wicking masks in their backpack. 

Also, if your kid participates in outdoor school activities, you'll want to make sure you pack an additional mask made of a breathable fabric, like cotton. Here are some of our favorite masks for outdoors.

When shouldn't my kids wear a mask at school?

While wearing a mask is recommended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are instances where the WHO and CDC say kids shouldn't wear a mask.

If your kid exercises after school, the WHO says they should not wear a mask when playing sports or doing physical activities -- including running or playing on the playground -- as it could compromise their breathing.

If your kid has a disability and can't do so safely for reasons related to the disability, the CDC recommends they don't wear a mask.


Back to school essentials now include face masks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Keep this in mind when buying your kids a face mask

If your child has asthma, the CDC recommends consulting with your health provider for any concerns you may have.

If they wear glasses, consider styles that go around the back of the head or neck, instead of ear loops. Also, a contoured face mask shape may work best with glasses.

Masks are made for kids of all ages, so make sure you're getting the right size. Masks shouldn't gap out on the sides and instead should fit snugly on the face. For your younger children learning how to read, a clear face mask could be beneficial.

For more COVID-19 information, here's what to know about vaccine passports. Also, here's how to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and how to overcome a fear of needles to get your COVID-19 vaccine.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.