Face coverings are an additional step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with everyday preventive actions and social distancing in public settings.
Here are the top seven things you should know.
1. Do all students have to wear face coverings?
Face coverings are required for all K-12 students inside school buildings and anywhere on school grounds, including outside. They are required while traveling on buses, vendor transportation or other WCPSS vehicles. Students will be allowed to remove them only when eating, drinking, or during a scheduled ‘face covering break’. Students who require medical accommodations should complete an accommodation request form and submit to their school.
Pre-K students expected ages 3-4 are expected to wear cloth face coverings if they can reliably wear, remove, and handle cloth face coverings throughout the day. State guidelines require Pre-K students age 5 and older are required to wear a face covering.
2. Are there requirements for the types of face coverings that must be worn?
Yes. Your child’s face covering must:
- Fit snugly against the sides of your face
- Be reasonably comfortable
- Allow them to breathe easily
- Be secured safely over nose, mouth and under your chin
- Be changed if it becomes soiled or wet
View the CDC’s website: How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask for more information.
3. Can my child wear a gaiter?
Gaiters can be considered if they are designed to secure safely over their nose, mouth and under their chin. Note that the CDC guidance states that evaluation of gaiters is ongoing.
4. Can students wear a face covering with a vent?
No. The CDC advises that masks with exhalation valves or vents should not be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others.
5. Can my child wear a face shield instead of a face covering?
No. The CDC does not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks because of a lack of evidence of their effectiveness.
6. What if my child won’t wear a face covering?
It is understandable that some children may struggle with wearing a face covering at first. That’s why it’s critically important that you practice wearing the face covering at home to help your child get used to it. To help them get comfortable, try putting a cloth face covering on a favorite stuffed animal or show your child pictures of other children wearing them. You can include your child in the selection of their mask. Finally, try using behavioral techniques such as positive reinforcement to increase the likelihood that children will comply with mask guidance and other prevention practices.
7. What if the face covering doesn’t fit?
Review these instructions from NCDHHS on how to adjust the fit of face coverings, as needed, for students or adults.
Use these social stories to help your child learn about face coverings
We’ve developed these two ‘social stories’ to explain why it’s important to wear a face covering.
- Face Covering social story for younger students
- Face Covering social story for special education students
Do you have additional questions?
Do you have questions about the face covering requirements for students? Let us know here. We’ll gather your questions over the next few days and use them to develop an FAQ. We’ll update this blog post with those FAQs and share them via social media.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will teachers be able to help students adjust their mask?
Staff will be able to assist students, as needed. We recommend making necessary adjustments and/or modifications to your child’s face covering before they come to school, if possible
What happens if my student forgets their mask? Will schools have extras?
The school will have extra face coverings for anyone who forgets to bring one. We encourage students and staff to bring a face covering every day and keep one in their belongings as a spare or back-up.
Why happens if a classmate repeatedly refuses to wear the mask properly? How will the teacher be supported ?
Students will be expected to follow health safety protocols, including wearing a face covering. Schools will adhere to the Student Code of Conduct for students not following health and safety requirements.
My son receives speech therapy at school. It’s imperative that he be able to see his SLPs mouth and that she can see his during therapy. He is comfortable and cooperative wearing a mask at all other times, but I’m wondering what the protocol will be for him during his speech therapy sessions?
Clear face coverings will be made available for speech therapists and for speech therapy students.
Will my 3-year-old or 4-year-old Pre-K student have to wear a face covering?
Pre-K students are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings. You should discuss concerns about your child with your healthcare provider and principal. State guidelines require Pre-K students age 5 and older are required to wear a face covering.
I support wearing masks. However, it concerns me that my child will be required to wear one for 7 hours for the school day. It seems like an unreasonable amount of time. Are there ways to create safe times in the day to remove them?
Schools may give students a brief face covering break if they can meet all of the following conditions:
- Outside only
- Spaced 8-10 feet from all other individuals, including employees
- Students should remain stationary in the same space
- Students should all face the same direction