An Alberta parent expresses frustration over baggy, ill-fitting medical masks sent home with students | The Canadian News

An Alberta mother expresses her frustration and offering modification options — after seeing the size and fit of the masks being handed out to students in schools across the province.

Sarah Mackey’s eldest daughter, who is in third grade, came home from school on Wednesday wearing one of the masks given to students by the provincial government. She was surprised to see how big it was on the eight year old’s face.

“It just hangs in his face,” Mackey said. “This is not a well-fitting medical mask. This is a loose piece of fabric that has a decorative and non-functional purpose.

“I have a big face, I have a big head, I wear the biggest style of KN95 masks. I can use this mask. It actually suits me quite well.

“It is insulting to think that this is what they think taking action to try to prevent the spread of COVID in schools will be.”

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Mackey’s daughter normally wears a KN95 respirator-style mask, but admits it’s a “role of privilege.”

“These kids who don’t have access to these higher quality masks, they should have the opportunity to protect themselves from COVID and what they get in return is something like, ‘Oh well, we send masks.’ What’s the point of submitting a skin that isn’t even going to work for what it claims to be?

“What are parents who don’t have access to other masks supposed to do? Most of the kids I’ve talked to will continue to wear the masks they already had. But at the time, why did we go to all the trouble to ship all these skins if they weren’t even going to be functional?

A request for comment from the Alberta government on the size of the province-supplied masks was not immediately returned Thursday morning.

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The province said all students, returning to school this week, would be sent home with rapid test kits and medical-grade masks.

Some, including the opposition NDP, questioned why students were not equipped with higher grade masks such as KN95s or N95s.

During a press conference on Thursday, NDP MLA David Eggen called on the province to provide N95 masks for all students and staff.

“Instead of proper, well-fitting protection, the UCP had school staff separate medical masks into Ziploc bags. These masks that don’t even fit and fall far short of what’s needed to stop transmission,” Eggen said.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health has generally said that while N95s are an option for people in public settings, “it’s important to remember that a well-fitting medical mask provides significant benefit and any layer of protection we put in place it is not enough by itself.”

“There is very little evidence to suggest that, in a community setting, the use of N95 masks will provide significant additional benefit to the use of a well-fitting, high-quality medical mask,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw on January 4.

“There have been countries that have tried to use universal N95 masking. The transmission path has not changed. N95 masks are appropriate in work settings. However, in the general public, even in places like a school, the challenges of wearing a tight-fitting mask and the discomfort and some of the problems that occur when wearing it for extended periods of time, those challenges are not outweighed by any theoretical potential. incremental benefit.

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Prime Minister Jason Kenney also noted that N95s are much more expensive than medical masks.

“They cost about $3.25 a piece versus about 80 or 90 cents a piece for medical-grade masks. But we would be prepared to spend that if the advice we received, the data, supported this as a significant improvement in terms of protection,” he said on January 4.

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw believes back-to-school plan 'balances' COVID-19 risks to students'

Hinshaw believes back-to-school plan ‘balances’ COVID-19 risks to students

Hinshaw believes back-to-school plan ‘balances’ COVID-19 risks to students – Jan 5, 2022

The emergency room doctor, Dr. Joe Vipond, has not seen the masks personally, but said parents have sent him photos of them.

He said he was concerned when he heard that children would be provided with medical masks, particularly during this Omicron-driven wave. The Omicron variant is much more transmissible than previous variants of COVID-19.

“This is an airborne virus and as such it is very important that precautions are taken in the air. I have been recommending for a long time that the public consider going to respirator-style masks like N95, KN95,” Vipond said.

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“Everything I’ve seen in the last 24 hours has confirmed that unless some pretty impressive modifications are made to the masks, they don’t fit well and therefore don’t provide the safety of sitting in a classroom surrounded by students for many hours.

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Mackey said the masks sent home with her daughter don’t fit her.

“The idea that these are going to fit anyone is ridiculous.”

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Hoping to help other families, Mackey took to social media Wednesday night to offer some modifications that can be made to medical-grade masks. She shared those tips with Global News on Thursday morning.

She said her daughters use ear protectors, which help pull the mask further back and closer to their faces. In addition, he ordered adjusters that can be screwed into the ends of the ear cups, so that the mask fits better.

Sarah Mackey’s eight-year-old daughter wearing the mask she was given at school with an ear protector.

Courtesy Sarah Mackey

Her other modification is what she calls the “fold knot.”

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The first step is to fold the mask in half horizontally, then tie both ears as close to the edge of the mask as possible. Then tuck the mask under the knot to close the hole created between the knot and the mask. Mackey said it’s easy for the mask to slip off and create a gap, so he places a piece of medical tape over the crease, which holds it in place.

“It’s a much tighter fit, especially to these little kids’ faces. It totally seals their mouths and noses.”

Watch Mackey demonstrate the knot and tuck below.

Click to Play Video: 'Alberta Mom Demonstrates Modification of Kids' Masks'

Alberta mom demonstrates modification for children’s masks

Alberta mom demonstrates modification for children’s masks

Sarah Mackey’s eight-year-old daughter wearing the mask she was given at school with its “knot and fold” modification.

Courtesy Sarah Mackey

However, Mackey said it shouldn’t fall on children, parents or school staff to spend time modifying masks.

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“How much time are we going to ask kids in classes, teachers, school staff or families to spend modifying these masks to be slightly functional when we could have shipped more functional masks in the first place? It feels like a waste of time,” he said.

“We also want to see the government invest in the highest quality masks out there.”

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Hinshaw and Prime Minister Jason Kenney are scheduled to provide an update on COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon.


Sarah Mackey’s four-year-old daughter wearing a mask her oldest daughter was given at school.

Courtesy Sarah Mackey


Sarah Mackey’s eight-year-old daughter wearing the mask she was given at school.

Courtesy Sarah Mackey


Sarah Mackey’s eight-year-old daughter wearing the mask she was given at school with its “knot and tuck” modification.

Courtesy Sarah Mackey


Sarah Mackey’s eight-year-old daughter wearing the mask she was given at school with an ear adjuster.

Courtesy Sarah Mackey


Sarah Mackey’s eight-year-old daughter wearing the mask she was given at school with an ear protector.

Courtesy Sarah Mackey

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