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Local family shares experience of using masks for two years

KAAL-TV
Created: August 14, 2020 06:36 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - Masks were an uncertain thing when the pandemic started, and now cities, businesses, and schools are requiring these to be worn. For one local family, they know what it is like to have a child wear a mask all too well. 

"Our world got turned upside down because of a virus," parent, Becky Herber said. She and her husband Andy have three boys. Nathan, who is a twin, was diagnosed with T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma when he was four. Nathan has been going through treatment for two years now and in the winter of 2018, he acquired RSV. "A tiny infectious particle put him in the hospital for 88 days, on multiple life support measures, including ECMO for a month, a ventilator, respiratory failure, everything," Andy said. 

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The Herber family went through the unthinkable and watched Nathan fight for his life. "From that point on we did not take anything for granted," Becky said. Each of them have been wearing masks wherever they go since Nathan got RSV. With masks now required in most places, the Herber's say it is opening many eyes to the life they have been living. 

"I'm kind of glad that the rest of the world finally feels what we have felt for two years. Because a lot of people make you feel like you are a helicopter parent, or you're paranoid. When really every time we left the house or when someone in our house left and came back, that would break the protective bubble we had for Nathan," Becky said. 

Wearing the masks wasn't easy at first for Nathan, "The initial challenge was getting Nathan to wear a mask. Even at the age of four, he was very self-conscious about it," Becky said, but for his twin brother. "He was like well I will wear a mask for Nathan if you want me to. Like okay, that was easy," Becky said. 

With masks being required inside classrooms, parents across Minnesota are facing some of the same challenges the Herber family faced. "Being able to tolerate those masks starts early by introducing them and giving them time to practice around their house by getting used to it," Pediatrician Angela Mattke said. She says as a parent to lead by example and teach children that this is not scary, but a way to help others. 

"And taking it seriously... I mean you need to because not everybody out there has a fighting shot," Andy said. To wear a mask to help kids like Nathan stay safe from a virus that has changed all of our lives. 

Pediatrician Mattke recommends these tips for parents that might be struggling with getting their child to wear a mask.

  • Speak to your child about masks and COVID-19 based on their age and developmental level 
  • Teach your child good mask hygiene, such as washing your hands before and after putting it on and taking it off
  • Lead by example; wear your mask and don't use negative or scary words with your child
  • Let your child practice with it, touch it, try it on, etc... 
  • You can try having them put the mask on their favorite stuffed animal, look in the mirror, or look at pictures of children wearing masks
  • For school, make sure to have enough masks just in case they lose it and make sure your child knows not to trade or share masks. 


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