Mask Requirements for Students
Student and staff safety and wellbeing are important as we return to the school environment. To maintain a healthy environment under the current circumstances, all students and staff are required to wear masks and to physically distance at 6 feet or more as often as possible. Along with frequent handwashing and cleaning, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services identifies these actions to dramatically reduce the spread of germs:
These healthy habits will be taught to students through developmentally and socially appropriate lessons, reinforced regularly by staff and instructors. All students will wear masks, learn how to monitor their social distance, and participate in handwashing and cleaning routines. You can reinforce these habits at home by following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control on handwashing.
Individual consideration will be used to modify the requirement of masks for students who can not wear one due to personal health concerns, for specific educational reasons, or communication needs. Please contact your school administrator, and school nurse, before your child begins school if your child might require mask-wearing accommodations. This will allow the school time to plan for additional precautions or alternatives such as a clear face shield. All school offices are open starting July 30. Please call ahead to make arrangements.
Mask Styles, Designs and Best Practices
There are many effective mask styles and options to make or purchase. Since students will be wearing a mask every day at school, it is important that the mask fits well and is comfortable. Single-use disposable masks offer convenience and are great to have stashed in the car, a backpack or at work, but cloth masks will ultimately be the most cost-effective as they can be washed and re-worn. Cloth masks can be purchased, sewn or made, and offer opportunities to personalize for style, fit, and flare. The Centers for Disease Control offers several practical suggestions on how to make your own face mask, and locally you can find mask ideas and resources at Fairbanks Area Citizen Corps.
Helping Kids Adjust to Masks
For younger children especially, it helps to involve them by allowing them to pick out the color, design, or style of their mask. Kids of all ages will be more willing to wear a mask if they like it and it’s basically comfortable. Model mask-wearing at home and when running errands, and have your child practice wearing his or her mask before school starts. Having multiple masks on hand will ensure there’s always a clean one to wear. As with everything that goes to school, don’t forget to put your child’s name on it!
Bus Riding and Masks
Masks are required for all students and staff on school buses. Assigned and separated seating will also be utilized, but do not replace the need for face masks. Appropriate, individual accommodations will be made for special education students or students with health or communication needs that limit the wearing of masks. Please contact your school administrator and school nurse to discuss your individual child’s needs in these situations.