What pediatrician answers mask exemption questions as kids head back to school

Dr. Amy Seery at Ascension Via Christi says parents have asked her to write their child a doctor's note exempting them from wearing a mask.
Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 4:54 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As kids get ready to head back to school, one big question is on many parents’ minds: Who should and who should not wear a mask?

Dr. Amy Seery at Ascension Via Christi says parents have asked her to write their child a doctor’s note exempting them from wearing a mask. Many of those children are asthmatic. She says in the majority of cases, it’s fine to wear a mask even if you have asthma. Dr. Seery says a mask will not make it harder for anyone to inhale oxygen or exhale carbon dioxide. She says patients who have cystic fibrosis have poor lung function but still wear a mask when they’re around others.

"Your lungs are not struggling, you are not unable to breathe, your oxygen levels are perfect. You are not breathing in extra CO2. None of that has ever been proven to be true," Dr. Seery says. "And again, in the medical field, we wear tight, tight, tight-fitting masks that are even hotter and it feels more difficult to blow the air in and out, and our numbers are still perfect. We wear them for prolonged periods over years and years of a career with no damage."

She says a very small population should not wear a mask. Dr. Seery says anyone who is unable to put the mask on and take it off themselves should not wear one because of the risk of strangulation. That includes children under the age of two and anyone with a developmental disability.

Dr. Seery sympathizes with anyone who struggles with wearing a mask. She says just as some have sensory issues with certain clothing fabrics, they can also have issues with a mask on their face. For some people, past trauma can make wearing a face covering a hard thing to do.

“We want to recognize for individuals who have a history of trauma, this can be very triggering, even if they weren’t specifically smothered in the past. Everyone in the medical community is sympathetic to that being someone’s starting point,” Dr. Seery says, “But it is a starting point in a journey, and it does take time. Give yourself patience. take lots of breaks.”

Dr. Seery says desensitization therapy can be helpful. She says there are resources available online. If you or your family members has severe problems, seek help from a professional.

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