Could sending your kids to school with a face mask protect them from the flu?

BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – Across the United States, 37 children have died from the flu this year, compared to 8 last year.

By the end of the third week back to school from winter break, the Beaufort County School District had about 140 flu cases. By the start of week four, they were at 203.

Some parents are asking– could sending their child to school with a face mask prevent them from getting it?

“I panic and (get) paranoid because I have a child with seizures, and if he catches any type of virus, he starts fever; we’ve been in the hospital twice,” said Crystal Magness, a mother of four in Bluffton. One of her children is in kindergarten at Pritchardville Elementary.

“I can’t have his big sister bring home the flu, God forbid he gets it, he might not survive because he’s little,” she said.

That’s when she started wondering what would help stop the spread.

“I think face masks would be great, not necessarily to prevent it, but to cut down on the spread of it from person to person in classrooms,” Magness said.

She took to Facebook to see what other parents thought… some were for it, some feared it’d only be a distraction.

News 3 consulted an expert at Global Urgent Care where swabs are on back order due to so many flu cases.

“The mask helps transmission a little bit,” said Paige Pardue, a nurse practitioner at the urgent care, “Once the mask gets wet with saliva, whether it be through breathing or sneezing or coughing, that barrier is definitely weakened, so germs can still pass through the mask.”

While the flu is an airborne virus, it can still live on surfaces such as tables and door knobs.

“They can still get it if their hands ever touch their mouth, or when they’re eating, or you pick it up on a surface,” Pardue said. She adds that someone with the flu may not have symptoms right away, but can still spread it.

“The best way to avoid the flu is washing your hands, using disinfectant, and getting the vaccine,” she said.

At the Magness household, they’re not taking any chances.

“I’ve gone through six cans of Lysol in the past two weeks, wiped down all walls, doors, refrigerators, cabinets, everything, every single day,” Magness said.

The Beaufort County School District says the masks are allowed in schools, but they don’t think they’ll be very effective. They say they’re still disinfecting surfaces in all of their schools, every night.

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