The latest masking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows vaccinated individuals to go unmasked outdoors and indoors (in many settings). Philadelphia has also relaxed its masking guidance for vaccinated people.

But what about kids under 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet? Many parents with younger children have wondered what they can and can’t do with their unvaccinated children this summer. Here are some recommendations to consider when you are planning an outing with others outside of your household.

Children can still get sick from COVID-19

Children are less likely than adults to become severely ill with COVID-19, but they can still get sick and spread the virus. Since masks are one of the best ways to reduce transmission, the CDC still recommends that unvaccinated kids mask up around people who are not in their household.

Get-togethers, playdates, and events outside are generally safer than indoor gatherings, but some outdoor situations will still require masks for your unvaccinated children. For example, if you’re at a crowded playground, concert, sporting event, or a park full of people and cannot keep safe distance, you’ll want your children to mask up. If you can keep a safe distance, your kids can take their masks off.

To mask or not to mask?

You may be thinking, “I’m vaccinated. Can’t I take my mask off?” Well, that depends. Some children won’t understand that you can take your mask off while you insist that they keep wearing theirs. To support them, you might choose to keep your mask on in crowded public spaces. But if you have a mature child who won’t be confused or upset by the situation, you could choose to remove your mask.

People wear masks for many different reasons

Currently at least 53% of adults in Philadelphia are fully vaccinated. You may decide that everyone in the family is going to mask outside of your household until the number of vaccinated people increases significantly. Or you may have other reasons for masking. People choose to wear masks for many different reasons. They may be unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, caring for someone with an underlying health condition or have one themselves, or just want to be extra careful when they are in crowds.

Weighing the benefits and risks

You’ll need to weigh the benefits and risks of each situation and make the best decision for your family every time you go to a public place. It’s important to remember that businesses are still allowed to require people to wear masks when entering their business, so be prepared with your own mask.

We suggest you take a few minutes before leaving the house to create a family game plan for masking. That way you can enjoy the summer in Philadelphia knowing you made the right choice for you and your loved ones!