‘He was a kindergartner and kept his mask on all day, every day’: Dad shares son’s story as parents worry about school mask mandate
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Utah dad and former 4 News Now reporter has a message for parents worried about their kids having to wear masks in school this fall: If his son can do it, so can yours.
McKay Allen’s son, Evan, has Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic, terminal lung disease that puts him at high risk for getting sick. Even when he’s well, he does a couple of hours of lung treatments and takes 18-20 pills a day. The Allens are diligent about germs, but they still want Evan to live a normal life with kids his age.
Pre-school was a challenge; Evan ended up in the hospital for 28 days that year. So, when it was time to enter kindergarten last fall, they worked with the teacher on a plan.
“We said, ‘hey, we’ve gotta keep Evan healthy,'” Allen said. “So, they came up with a plan that he would wipe down his desk with Lysol twice a day, wouldn’t share supplies with other students, would wipe down his little square for storytime – and, we also really put a premium on handwashing.”
The Allens and Evan’s teacher also focused on two major things to keep the little boy healthy.
“He would wear a mask every single day – just him. And, we sent a letter home to all the parents in the class and said ‘here’s the situation. If your kid’s sick, please keep him home,'” Allen said.
All of those measures combined paid off for Evan.
“It was the healthiest he’s been,” Allen said. “We didn’t have a hospitalization all year and he was only on antibiotics once.”
The healthiest year of his life, thanks to the same measures many districts and the CDC recommend for schools this fall to keep kids and teachers safe.
The Allens know some parents are skeptical and worried that their kids can take all these measures, especially wearing masks all day. McKay shared their experience on Facebook this week, just as the controversy over masks swirled in the Salt Lake City area. They expected some comments from family and friends. Instead, thousands of people have shared it online.
“We thought it was important to share that kids can do this,” Allen said. “He was a kindergartner and he kept his mask on all day, every day. Did he have a difficult time occasionally? Of course. But, now, it’s not a big deal and he doesn’t even realize he’s wearing a mask all the time.”
Is it foolproof? It’s too early to know for sure, but the Allens do have one takeaway for all parents as we head into this phase of uncertainty.
“I think if parents are like, ‘this is stupid, you shouldn’t do this’ and they’re talking that way at home, it’s going to be really hard for their kids to do it at school,” Allen said.
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