'With masks, our kids cannot lip read'

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'With masks, our kids cannot lip read'

Korea is considering lifting some of its last Covid-19 restrictions, possibly starting by removing mask requirements for infants and children. 
“We’re well aware of those problems caused by wearing masks of infants and children. When we discuss easing the guidelines of mask wearing indoors, we will thoroughly discuss for whom and from when the easing policy should be implemented,” said Park Hye-kyung, director of the disease prevention support team for the Central Disease Control Headquarters.
Experts are saying that the mandate needs to be lifted quickly for infants and children. This is because wearing masks can have negative effects on their development of language, emotion and sociability, as it is hard to see people's mouths and listen to accurate pronunciations. The special advisory panel for childcare at Seoul City explained “the most affected by Covid-19 are infants and children,” as incomplete interactions and a lack of experiential activities can slow brain development. 
The Central Disease Control Headquarters is likely to consider a measure to lift the mandatory guideline of wearing masks indoors when it comes to places like daycares and kindergartens, rather than target specific age groups. This is because lifting the mask mandate has little real effect if some people still have to wear masks within the same space.
“Children can’t learn which mouth shape and pronunciation is correct because they have to wear masks during their language development stage.”
“Only looking at each other’s eyes is not helping at all.”
“What if they contact the virus and get seriously ill?”
“Complications would affect them if they caught Covid.”
“Adults who take care of them need to take off their masks too. The problem has emerged as with masks, our kids cannot lip read.”
“Caregivers and teachers who spend a lot of time with children should also take off their masks.”

BY KIM HA-YEONG, BY HAN HYE-RIM [han.hyerim1@joongang.co.kr]
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