Is this mask homologada?
It’s, finally, back to school time and this year, on top of the usual preparations, parents also have to make sure they follow the school’s instructions for how they’re going to implement the measures to control the spread of Covid-19.
The hottest of discussion topics in the class Whatsapp groups is, of course, masks. Who has to wear them, in what circumstances and for how long? But the question that seems to cause the most confusion is “what type of mask do children have to wear?”
Many schools have advised parents that masks must be “homologadas” but what does that even mean?
The short answer is that the category of masks recommended for children are “hygienic masks” which are certified to the UNE0065 specification. But many schools have not been very clear about this, perhaps because they are not completely sure themselves – understandable when they’ve got so much to organise in a short time.
But since we’re a mask shop which sells hygienic masks certified UNE0065 in sizes for children (and adults), why should you take our word for it?
Luckily, you don’t have to. The Spanish government has created a guide to what you need to know when you buy a mask. It clearly explains the three different categories of masks, and who they’re for.
Here, we summarise the most important information to be found in the guide, especially as it relates to children.
Three types of masks
The guide starts by classifying masks into three types and specifying who they are for.
1 – Hygienic masks:
For healthy people. Healthy people are asked to wear masks a public health measure to reduce the overall risk of transmission from people who don’t know they’re infected, given that some infected people may not have symptoms.
2 – Surgical masks:
For people who are ill. That is, those who’ve tested positive for Covid-19 or are showing symptoms. Surgical masks act as a barrier to reduce the spread of from an infected person (although we would hope that people who are infected would have only minimum contact with others).
3 – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) masks:
For people who are in close contact with people infected with Covid-19, such as doctors, and for those who it is medically indicated, such as cancer patients with weakened immune systems. PPE masks protect the wearer of the mask from the surrounding environment.
Which masks are for children?
A child who is attending school therefore is in the first category of healthy people, so if they need to wear a mask (it’s obligatory for children over six) they should wear a hygienic mask. The guide states this explicitly further down the same page:
“When required, healthy children from the age of three should wear hygienic masks according to their age range.”
But what if children do have symptoms? Is a hygienic mask still ok? Yes, if it is certified UNE0065, as the guide says:
“Children who are positive for COVID-19, with positive symptoms or asymptomatic, should preferably use surgical or hygienic masks with the UNE specification.”
Masks which are certified with the UNE0065 specification are tested for their filtration level of filtration, breathability and water resistance so the government considers the protection level sufficient even for children with symptoms. Surgical masks are also fine for children with symptoms, but it’s important to note that they are not required.
Hygienic masks also have the advantage of coming in three different children’s sizes, as the guide says:
“There are three sizes, according to each age range, between 3 and 12 years old.”
Surgical masks are usually only available in adult sizes.
Confusion with FFP2
You’ll notice that the guide doesn’t even mention PPE masks in relation to children. That’s because these masks, commonly referred to as FFP2 masks, are intended for professionals and others at very high risk, not the general population. On page 6, the guide says:
“If you are not a professional, you are not in contact with the virus or you do not have risk activities related to COVID-19, you do not need this type of mask to protect yourself from infection, unless medically indicated.”
Judging from the many questions about FFP2 masks we get at MasksForAll, there is a lot of confusion about this. Some schools have even been confusing the idea of masks being “homologadas” or certified, with FFP2 masks. As the guide makes clear, the masks recommended for children are hygienic masks and the applicable standard for them is UNE0065.
We’ve seen that the main purpose of the general population, including children, wearing masks is to reduce the risk of transmission from the wearer. But, understandably, parents also want to know if the mask helps to protect their child from picking up the virus from their classmates. The guide has some information about this too:
As the table on the guide makes clear, hygienic masks with the UNE Specification and surgical masks both offer protection to the wearer and those around the wearer. Hygienic masks without the UNE specification, such as homemade masks, have not been tested or verified.
In summary, of the three types of masks available, hygienic masks are the type recommended for children. Parents can reassure themselves about the effectiveness of the mask by checking that is certified according to the UNE0065 specification – if so, the mask protects both the wearer of the mask and those around them.
Schools who require masks to be “homologadas” should check that hygenic masks are certified as compliant with the UNE0065 specification. This should not be confused with FFP2 masks which are PPE for professionals and not recommended for children. Surgical masks have the disadvantage of only coming in adult sizes (as well as environmental disadvantages).
MasksForAll has UNE0065 certified hygienic masks in three sizes for children (plus two adult sizes). The masks are designed and made in Barcelona and come in a range of attractive styles. Check out our back to school multi-pack of five masks for the price of four. We also have small carry bags for masks, and portable hand gels.