The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance concerning the use of cloth face masks in K-12 schools. To mitigate the novel coronavirus pandemic, the federal agency recommends people wear cloth face coverings, not face shields, in public settings and when around people who live outside their household, especially when social distancing is difficult to maintain. The Aug. 11 update includes a recommendation that schools have a plan in place to prevent and address harmful behavior, such as bullying, discrimination, and stigmatization resulting from wearing or not wearing masks.
This latest CDC guidance expands on updated considerations published Aug. 7 on the CDC website to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It makes recommendations to encourage mask-wearing at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and includes strategies to support mask-wearing among students with special health care needs consistent with CDC guidance.
Schools may include cloth face coverings on school supply lists and provide cloth face coverings as needed to students, teachers, staff, or visitors who do not have them available. Students and schools should consider having additional cloth face coverings available in case a back-up cloth face covering is needed during the day and to facilitate everyday washing of cloth face coverings.
In circumstances for which wearing a cloth face covering is not feasible, the CDC suggests using adaptations and alternatives, such as clear masks for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, CDC officials reiterated that clear face coverings are not face shields, and the CDC does not recommend using face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth case coverings. The agency lacks evidence on their effectiveness.
Johnny Jackson covers homeless and at-risk students and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.