Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment
How to Select
When selecting a mask, there are many choices. Here are some dos and don’ts as recommended by the CDC:
DO choose masks that
Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
Completely cover your nose and mouth
Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps
Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask
DO NOT choose masks that
Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl
Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape
Are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators
Cold weather gear
Wear your scarf, ski mask or balaclava over your mask Scarves, ski masks and balaclavas are not substitutes for masks
About Face Coverings
- COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Studies and evidence on infection control report that these droplets usually travel around 6 feet (about two arms lengths).
- Programs will provide acceptable face coverings to staff who directly interact with students or members of the public while at work at no cost to staff and provide face coverings to any student who does not have their own, at no cost to the student.
- Face coverings should NOT be used by children under the age of 2, or for anyone who has trouble breathing, unable to remove the covering without assistance, is unable to medically tolerate such covering, including students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction.
- For individuals who have difficulty with wearing a cloth face covering and it is not medically contraindicated to wear a face covering, behavior techniques and social skills stories can be used to assist in adapting to wearing a face covering.
- Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include but are not limited to cloth-based face coverings and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose.
- Face coverings should be worn by staff whenever they are near students or colleagues and encouraged in students (particularly older students).
- Face coverings shall be required during instruction with planned breaks, provided physical distancing is maintained when face coverings are not in place. In areas where higher community infection rates are possible face coverings shall always be required.
- Wear face coverings when physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as arrival/dismissal, offices, hallways, bathroom, cafeteria, lounge, elevator, nurse’s office etc.
- Don’t put the covering around your neck or up on your forehead.
- Don’t touch the face covering, and, if you do, wash your hands.
- School Administrators will distribute face shields and/or face coverings that are transparent at or around the mouth on a case by case basis (i.e., for therapies or interventions that require visualization of the movement of the lips and/or mouths).
- These alternate coverings may also be used for certain students (e.g. hearing impaired) that benefit from being able to see more of the employee’s face.
- Staff will implement desensitization protocols to encourage students to tolerate masks.
- Cloth face coverings should adhere to the Agency’s standards of civility, courtesy and respect. Any attire that contains and/or promotes vulgar, offensive, obscene, and/or threatening language/imagery/symbols, or otherwise is likely to incite violence and/or disrupt the school environment, is prohibited.
Taking Off Cloth Face Covering Carefully
- Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
- Handle only by the ear loops or ties
- Fold outside corners together
- Place covering in the washing machine (learn more about How to Wash Cloth Face Coverings➚)
- Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.
Source: CDC guidance on How to Wear Masks➚
Face covering breaks
Schools may allow students to remove face coverings when students are:
- Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart
- Seated at desks or assigned workspaces at least 6 feet apart
- Engaged in any activity at least 6 feet apart (e.g., face covering breaks, recess, etc.); or
- When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.