Face masks require student care

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools has ordered 10,000 cloth face masks for students, faculty and staff to be distributed prior to the beginning of classes for the 2020-2021 academic year Aug. 24.

Each student in the district will be issued three cloth face masks for use on campus and at any HPS event; and, face masks issued by the district will become the responsibility of the student, according to district policy. The Hope School Board has also voiced its support for the policy requiring mask usage throughout grades K-12.

Bobcat Clinic Director Gretchen Carlton said there is a correct way to wear a cloth face mask, and a proper way to care for it.

“The mask should cover your nose and your mouth,” Carlton said. “This will provide better coverage for the people you come into contact with.”

Masks will be required for visits at the Bobcat Clinic, she said.

“The Bobcat Clinic will resume seeing patients Monday, Aug. 3, at 7:30 a.m.,” Carlton said. “We ask, for safety reasons, that patients only bring one visitor with them.”

Temperature screenings will be required for all persons entering the clinic, and patients need to call 722-2733, Option 2, to allow for screening time before their appointment, she said.

Correct usage of a cloth face mask is a matter of common sense, according to CDC guidance, which recommends washing hands before usage, and securing straps over ears so as to cover the nose and mouth with the mask secure beneath the chin and snug against the sides of the face. Comfort is important in mask usage, so it should be worn to allow easy breathing, the CDC notes.

A couple of common sense reminders, the CDC notes, include:

--Wear the mask when in public or around people not part of your household. Usage on all HPS campuses and in HPS facilities is required.

--Don’t hand the mask covering around the neck or up on forehead when not in use.

--Keep hands off the interior face covering as much as possible, and wash hands frequently, using antibacterial soap, or use hand sanitizer frequently.

When removing a cloth mask, the CDC recommends untying the strings or stretch ear loops to loosen, and handle only by string ties or ear loops; and fold the outside corners together to avoid ambient contamination.

Cloth face masks should be washed between daily usage, and can be machine washed with normal laundry in household laundry detergent on “warm” or “hot” water settings.

Hand-washing a cloth mask requires a bleach solution of either 5 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons of household bleach per quart of room temperature water, depending upon quantity of masks.

The CDC recommends usage of bleach which is intended for disinfection; and discourages any mixture with other cleansers or substances.

Face masks should be soaked in the bleach solution for five minutes and rinsed clean with cool or room temperature water. Cloth face masks may also be dried in a household machine drier at “high” setting, or air dried by laying on a flat surface, preferably in direct sunlight.

Face mask usage for HPS students and staff is as follows:

STUDENTS

--All students must wear face coverings when physical distancing of six feet is not possible or not practical. (School entry, exit, classroom, hall passing, bathroom). This includes any time a student is on district property, on district-owned transportation, waiting at bus stops, or at all school-sponsored activities.

--Students may remove face coverings while eating meals or snacks. Physical distancing should be maintained as much as practicable.

--Students will be given face-covering breaks throughout the day. Students will be spaced at least six feet apart during face-covering breaks.

--Exceptions to face-covering requirements will be made for those for whom it is not possible to wear face coverings due to medical conditions, disability impact, or other health or safety factors. Requests for face-covering exceptions must be approved by the student’s principal and accompanied by appropriate medical documentation.

STAFF/FACULTY

--All staff (certified and classified) must wear face coverings when physical distancing of six feet is not possible or not practical. (School entry, exit, classroom, hall passing, workrooms). This includes any time a staff member is on district property, on district-owned transportation, waiting at bus stops, or at all school-sponsored activities.

--Staff may remove face coverings while eating meals or snacks. Physical distancing must be maintained while during meal or snack times.

--Staff and presenters may remove face coverings while teaching if 12 feet distancing is maintained.

--When the District determines face shields or clear masks are necessary for instructional purposes (e.g., English Learners, early childhood, foreign language, etc.), shields or clear masks will be provided by the District. When face shields are selected as a matter of preference, the shields must be provided by the employee.

--Exceptions to face-covering requirements will be made for those for whom it is not possible due to medical conditions, disability impact, or other health or safety factors.

--Requests for face-covering exceptions must be approved by the employee’s supervisor and accompanied by appropriate medical documentation.