Why should students and staff wear a cloth face mask at school?
In order to maximize the health and safety of all, staff, students and visitors will wear cloth face coverings at school. The decision to implement mask-wearing includes the following benefits for both children and adults in our schools:
- Wearing face masks limits the spread of illness, allowing students to be in school and helps keep our schools open. This will help meet our goal to provide maximum in-person learning and schedules in the traditional classroom.
- Wearing of cloth face coverings is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), St. Louis Country and the Missouri Department of Health for children ages two and older.
- Parkway is committed to caring for all students and staff as part of our mission. We show care for others when we wear our mask at school. Wearing a mask helps protect our classmates and teachers/staff who are more at-risk. Mask wearing allows everyone to participate in school.
- Wearing masks offers an added layer of protection when young students, who are developmentally drawn to each other, do not maintain social distancing recommendations. Children will be able to play together in a more age-appropriate way with this added insurance.
Mask breaks can be provided by supervising adults when the opportunity exists, such as outside when students are appropriately distanced, or during lunch. Please follow the CDC guidelines for proper face coverings here.
What if a student or staff member is unable to wear a mask?
We recognize that some students and staff will be unable to wear a mask due to medical conditions, social-emotional needs and/or when the risk of wearing a mask would outweigh the benefit. We will work with students to educate them on the benefits and proper wearing of masks and/or develop a safe alternative when needed and possible.
Will Parkway provide masks to students or staff?
Students are requested to bring their own cloth face coverings to wear at school and on buses. Students who are unable to bring a mask to school will be provided with a mask.
Cloth face coverings will be provided for all staff and PPE (personal protective equipment) will be provided to staff depending on their position (nurses, custodians, etc). Staff members are also welcome to bring and wear their own masks at school. In addition, masks with a clear covering will be available for some teachers and staff, including those working with students with special needs, English language learners and teachers working with younger students.
Can students or staff wear masks other than cloth?
Yes, students and staff can wear any face covering they choose at school. The recommendation for most is to wear a cloth face covering.
The following information from the St. Louis County Health Department outlines different types of masks:
- Surgical masks (medical mask): A surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask that protects the wearer's nose and mouth from contact with droplets, splashes and sprays that may contain germs. A surgical mask also filters out large particles in the air.
- N95 masks: Actually a type of respirator, an N95 mask offers more protection than a surgical mask does because it can filter out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales. As the name indicates, the mask is designed to block 95% of very small particles. Some N95 masks have valves that make them easier to breathe through. With this type of mask, unfiltered air is released when the wearer exhales, therefore such valves are not recommended.
- Cloth masks: A cloth mask is intended to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes. Asking everyone to wear cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus by people who have COVID-19 but don't realize it. Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus when they are widely used by people in public settings.
While surgical and N95 masks may be in short supply and should be reserved for health care providers, cloth face coverings and masks are easy to find or make, and can be washed and reused. Masks can be made from common materials, such as sheets made of tightly woven cotton. Instructions are easy and can be found here.
How often should cloth face coverings be cleaned?
Cloth face coverings should be cleaned at home after use each day and if damp or soiled.