Masked-up kids may struggle to communicate. Here’s how to help.

These tips from the experts—including a retired FBI agent—will help kids translate facial clues and body language.

In addition to new outfits and backpacks, face masks are now an essential addition to kids’ back-to-school gear. According to new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all students and staff should wear masks inside schools, regardless of vaccination status.

But kids used to virtual learning may not have much experience interacting or communicating with their peers or teachers while masked. And parents and child development experts alike are wondering how that will affect children as they return to school.

For instance, to assess whether kids can accurately interpret a masked person’s emotions, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Child Emotion Lab showed children ages seven to 13 pictures of people displaying different emotions. Some faces had no coverings, some wore sunglasses, and others wore face masks. The children had to guess one of six emotion labels: happy, sad, angry, surprised, afraid, or disgusted.

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