When the St. Charles Parish School District released the Strong Start 2020 Family Reopening Guide, parents and caretakers learned the ins and outs of the newest required uniform accessory – a face mask.
“Wearing a face covering protects students and employees and is an important measure in minimizing COVID-19 transmission so we may maximize student learning in our buildings,” the guide states. “Without appropriate safety measures, we would be unable to fulfill our promise of providing the safest environment possible for students and employees. After further collaboration with health officials and in an effort to maximize health and safety measures, adjustments have been made to face covering requirements to more closely align with issued recommendations.”
Employees and students from third grade and up are required to wear face coverings the entire school day. Pre-kindergarten through second grade students are strongly recommended to wear face coverings.
Officials said accommodations may be made for employees and students who may be unable to wear face coverings due to special and/or medical needs.
The district’s plan notes that “flexibility in face covering requirements for students throughout the school day will be allowed as necessary for comfort as permitted by teachers and employees.”
Wherever, whenever or for how long a mask is worn, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say masks should be washed after every use.
“Masks are an additional step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with every day preventive actions and social distancing in public settings,” the CDC website states. “Masks should be washed after each use. It is important to always remove masks correctly and wash your hands after handling or touching a used mask.”
If the masks are included in regular laundry loads, the CDC recommends using regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.
To wash a mask by hand, the CDC website states an appropriate bleach solution can be prepared by mixing the following: 5 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons of household bleach per quart of room temperature water.
Before purchasing a bleach, the CDC recommends checking the label to see if the bleach is intended for disinfection.
“Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing, may not be suitable for disinfection,” the CDC website states. “Ensure the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.”
Masks should be soaked in the bleach solution for five minutes before being rinsed with cool or room temperature water.
If a mask will be air dried, the CDC recommends placing it in direct sunlight. If using a dryer, the CDC recommends using the highest appropriate heat setting.