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Back-to-School: Face mask wear and care

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on August 18, 2020

When school gets underway in September, students, staff and visitors to our schools will be expected to wear face coverings at all times, indoors and outside, including on the school bus and in classrooms. Naturally, there are a lot of questions surrounding face coverings, or masks. Below are some of the most frequent: 

Q. What is an acceptable face mask?

A: BCSD has been working closely with the district’s medical director to establish guidelines for face coverings. Please note the following:

Acceptable, or recommended, face coverings will:

  • completely cover both the mouth and nose;
  • fit snugly, but comfortably against the sides of the face;
  • be secured with ties or loops;
  • include three tightly woven layers of material;
  • allow for breathing without restrictions; 
  • can be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

    Unacceptable face coverings include:

    • gaiters;
    • bandannas; and
    • masks with valves or vents.

    It is important to remember that the use of face coverings/masks should be combined with other everyday preventive actions and control measures such as frequent handwashing, social/physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, as face coverings do not protect against COVID-19 on their own.

    Q. What is the appropriate way to wear and care for a mask?

    A. Take a look at this brief video to learn about best practices for wearing and caring for cloth face coverings:

    Q. How will my child store their face mask at lunch or during mask breaks?

    A. Students should bring a clean lightweight, breathable bag to store their face masks safely during times when they are able to remove their face coverings.

    Q. Does everyone need to wear a face mask?

    A. Yes. Only those who are medically unable to tolerate a mask and who have obtained an exemption through the district’s medical exemption process would not have to wear a face covering. Any medical exemption would require a written recommendation from a student’s physician AND the review and approval of the district’s school physician/medical director. 

    Q. Would families be notified if a student in their child’s class or on their bus is exempt from wearing a mask?

    A. Yes. If a child on a bus or in a classroom is unable to wear a face mask due to a documented medical condition, families would be notified by their building principal that there is a medical exemption-eligible student in their child’s classroom or on their child’s bus route. It is also important to note that because the exemption process requires several layers of medical documentation — and final approval from the school district’s medical director — the process could take several days. During that time, a student who had applied for an exemption would be required to either wear a face mask or stay at home in a remote learning environment until a final decision has been made and/or an exemption is granted.

    Q. How can I explain the importance of wearing a face mask to young children?

    A. There are many great resources available to parents of young children who want to explain or reinforce the importance of wearing a face mask at school and elsewhere. Click here for an illustrated, narrated and age-appropriate explanation for families from Autism Little Learners. The Autism Little Learners blog has lots of COVID-19 resources for all families of young children. Another great resource for helping your child incorporate regular use of face coverings can be found on this page from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Q. What happens if a student who is not exempt refuses to wear a mask?

    A: Just as any other instance in which a student refuses to follow school rules, teachers and other staff will work with the student to ensure understanding of the importance of using face coverings for health and safety and how compliance with this important new rule is not negotiable. If a student continues to refuse to wear a face mask, families will be notified and the student will be enrolled in the remote learning option.