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Wondering if young children in Colorado have to wear masks at child care? Here’s the answer.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images

Last week, Gov. Jared Polis asked adults to wear cloth masks when they leave the house. But what about kids attending child care?

New guidance from the Colorado Department of Human Services recommends — but does not require — that children over 3 wear cloth masks while at child care. The same goes for adults in the facility, including child care providers and parents dropping off and picking up their children. Children under 3 should not wear masks, the guidance states.

The new recommendations give a nod to practicality — saying if masks cause discomfort or lots of face-touching for children 3-5, they should not be worn. It also states that if children of any age can’t remove their masks without help, they shouldn’t wear them.

The research on cloth masks is mixed. There’s some evidence that they can reduce disease spread when worn by an infected person. But experts also say they must be used properly to be effective — they must fit closely to the face, the wearer must avoid touching the outside of the mask, and they should be washed daily or any time they get dirty. In addition to suggesting daily laundering, the state guidance provides mask-making resources and gives tips for acclimating children to their use.

And now, to all the child care providers tasked with getting small children to wear — but not touch — snug-fitting masks over their mouths and noses, a hearty good luck.

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