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What is the best mask for kids with Omicron spreading? Experts weigh in

As kids head back to school, health experts share how to keep kids safe.
/ Source: TODAY

The spread of the infectious omicron variant of COVID-19 has left many parents wondering about the latest guidance on masks, especially when it comes to kids.

"With omicron spreading (and) evading vaccines, public health experts are recommending people upgrade their masks to a surgical mask," NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen said on TODAY Tuesday. "Or consider the KN95 or N95. These are respirators and they are designed to filter out 95% of particles. That means those virus particles that can carry coronavirus."

What is the best mask for kids?

Nguyen talked to NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres for the most accurate mask guidance for kids.

While the best option remains a KN95 or N95 mask, Nguyen acknowledged it can be “really hard to find them in kid sizes” and the snug fit makes it difficult for kids to keep them on all day.

"The second best option is to make sure you have a kid sized surgical mask," Nguyen reported. "You really want to make sure you have one that fits your child's face, and you want to layer the cloth mask over that mask."

If this is not possible, the next best option is a surgical mask on its own.

"Least best, but better than nothing, is a cloth mask alone," Nguyen said.

How should a child's mask fit?

As a refresher on fit, Nguyen said it was "really vital" to make sure masks fits snugly over the nose and mouth.

"With the surgical mask it's really important to pull it all the way out, and mash down this part," Nguyen said adjusting the wire portion of the mask across the bridge of her nose. "To keep it very snug against your cheeks."

When should my child wear a mask?

Nguyen told TODAY the CDC recommends masking any time you are indoors, or outdoors and cannot socially distance.

The rate of COVID-19 among kids in the U.S. has been increasing since early November, according to data from the American Association of Pediatrics.

“This is much higher than last year," Dr. Aaron Milstone, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, told TODAY in late December. "The numbers I’ve been hearing for pediatrics are higher than any point during the pandemic."