This year’s back-to-school supply list has an important line item: masks. With a rise in the delta variant, school mask mandates and recommendations from major medical groups that all children 2 and older should be masked in indoor group settings have sent parents into a mask-buying scramble.

With a dizzying variety of choices around not only brands, but types of face masks and how to care for them, parents have largely been left to fend for themselves as they try to protect their children and others. We asked infectious-disease specialists, pediatricians and other experts how parents should parse the mask questions.

What to know

  • What kind of mask offers the best protection for kids?
  • Should kids wear N95 masks?
  • Are cloth masks with filters the best option for kids?
  • How do I get my child to wear a face mask all day?
  • How bad is it if my child has a tendency to wet their mask by licking or chewing on it?
  • How often should I change or wash my child’s mask?