Information about Facial Coverings: August 21

As more data and research becomes available about the COVID-19 virus, guidance will continue to evolve. Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their guidance strongly recommending children age two and older should wear face coverings at all times. 

Requirement to Wear Facial Covering
Given this recent change, the PA Department of Health (DOH) is now requiring students to wear face coverings at all times while in school, even when six feet of social distancing can be achieved. Formerly, the DOH guidance stated students in schools could remove their face coverings as long as six feet of social distancing could be maintained. 

Face coverings must also be worn by all non-students, both staff and visitors (including parents and guardians), while on school property, including during student drop-off and pickup. Staff are not required to wear a face covering in situations where wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition to operate equipment or execute a task.

When Can A Facial Covering Be Removed?
Schools may allow students to remove face coverings when students are:

  • Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart; or
  • When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task; or
  • At least 6 feet apart during “face-covering breaks” to last no longer than 10 minutes.

 

What Can Be Worn As a Face Covering?

Per the DOH orders, a face covering means a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face. A face covering can be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen, and, for the purposes of the order, can include a plastic face shield that covers the nose and mouth. Face coverings may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or improvised from household items, including but not limited to, scarves, bandanas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. While procedural and surgical masks intended for health care providers and first responders, such as N95 respirators, would meet these requirements, these specialized masks should be reserved for appropriate occupational and health care settings.

What If Someone Cannot Wear A Facial Covering?

If a family indicated that their student is unable to wear a facial covering, the building principal contacted the family to discuss a possible exemption. Medical documentation is required due to the limited exceptions for a facial covering. 

In general, if a child is not able to keep his/her mask on, parents/guardians will be contacted and together, the school and family will develop a plan to help the child. If the child continues to be unable to wear a mask and the child does not meet an exception outlined by the Governor and DOH, we will require the student to move to our virtual learning option or HAVEN Online Learning option.

Click here to watch a video created by our school nurses about students washing their hands, wearing facial coverings, watching social distancing.