A short guide to children and face covers

As we all brace for winter and the upcoming festive season, local and national governments are re-evaluating guidelines and strategies to help slow the rise of COVID-19 cases. As rule changes and national lockdowns come into play, most countries are striving to keep schools open and children learning – at least part time – in the classroom, rather than at home.


Regardless of what safety measures your local schools are putting in place, we’ve been experiencing the confusion around children and face coverings first hand. In the Netherlands, we have been working with local secondary schools to provide face coverings for the students and staff members – educating them on why, how and when to wear them.


Designed to reassure children and adults alike that face coverings are not to be feared, during these school visits we have talked through how to put them on and take them off properly (always wash your hands!) and how and when to wash them (after a day of wear and at 40 degrees C). We have also discussed how wearing a face covering properly can help keep everyone safe and help to stop the spread of COVID-19.


We’ve been asked on numerous occasions how old children should be before they need to wear a face covering. There are no hard and fast rules on age. The World Health Organisation and European standardisation organisation, CEN advise that face covers should not be worn by children younger than three years, as their lungs are not fully developed and therefore a face covering may cause difficulty in breathing.


It is also strongly advised that children aged between four and twelve years wear face coverings only when supervised by adults. Common sense plays a role here as without reminders from adults, younger children are unlikely to keep face coverings on for any length of time, not to mention may misplace them or get them dirty whilst playing.


Older children from the age of twelve can wear face coverings unsupervised and we recommend they do so to help stop the spread of the virus.


As with adult face coverings, getting the right fit is essential to ensure effectiveness. Just as children outgrow their clothes and shoes, their faces change shape as they mature, so make sure to measure them to get the right size! ISKO Vital+ face coverings are available in small, medium and large, so they can grow with your child.  You can read more about sizes and how face coverings should fit in our recent (M)Ask the Expert blog