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County News & Information

Posted on: October 12, 2020

COVID-19 Update 10/11/20

The County of Cape May Department of Health is reporting 4 new positive case among County residents. 

Total positive cases of COVID-19 infection in Cape May County is now 1427 including 92 deaths.  

 10.11.20 covid graphs

Guidance for K-12 School Administrators on the Use of Masks in Schools

CDC suggests that all school reopening plans address adherence to behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19. When used consistently and correctly, along with important mitigation strategies, masks are important to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Other important mitigation strategies include social distancing, washing hands, and regular cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in schools and buses. CDC provides considerations for wearing masks and recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people who live outside of their household. The use of masks is especially important when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. Masks are an example of source control. Several studies1-13 have documented asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 transmission; meaning that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still transmit the virus to other people. Masks are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected. Masks are not personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks or respirators. 

The use of masks in educational settings may present challenges, particularly for younger students and students with special healthcare or educational needs. This document provides guidance to help school administrators decide how to best implement the wearing of masks ― in their school settings and facilities, including but not limited to buses and other shared transportation. 

Education and promotion of positive and supportive relationships should remain the primary focus of school administrators, teachers, and staff. This guidance provides K-12 school administrators with strategies to encourage students to wear masks, consistent with CDC guidance, while maintaining a positive learning environment. 

General Considerations

COVID-19 can be spread to others even if you do not feel sick. A mask helps prevent a person who is sick from spreading the virus to others. Appropriate and consistent use of masks is most important when students, teachers, and staff are indoors and when social distancing of at least 6 feet is difficult to implement or maintain.

Masks should not be placed on:

  • · Children younger than 2 years old.
  • · Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
  • · Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Appropriate and consistent use of masks may be challenging for some students, teachers, and staff, including:

  • · Younger students, such as those in early elementary school.
  • · Students, teachers, and staff with severe asthma or other breathing difficulties.
  • · Students, teachers, and staff with special educational or healthcare needs, including intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, and sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity.

While masks are strongly encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recognizes there are specific instances when wearing a mask may not be feasible. In these instances, parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, and school administrators should consider adaptations and alternatives whenever possible. They may need to consult with healthcare providers for advice about wearing masks.

Consider use of clear masks that cover the nose and wrap securely around the face by some teachers and staff. Clear masks should be determined not to cause any breathing difficulties or over heating for the wearer. Teachers and staff who may consider using clear masks include:

  • · Those who interact with students or staff who are deaf or hard of hearing, per the Individuals with Disabilities Education 
  • · Teachers of young students learning to read
  • · Teachers of students in English as a second language classes
  • · Teachers of students with disabilities

Clear masks are not face shields. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks because of a lack of evidence of their effectiveness for source control.

Unintended Consequences

Practical Recommendations

  • · Include masks on school supply lists and provide masks as needed to students, teachers, staff, or visitors who do not have them available.
  • · Include clear masks on school supply lists for teachers and staff who regularly interact with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students learning to read, students with disabilities, and those who rely on lip reading as a part of learning, such as students who are English Language Learners.
  • · Ensure that students and staff are aware of the correct use of masks, including wearing masks over the nose and mouth and securely around the face.
  • · Ensure that students, teachers and staff are aware that they should wash or sanitize their hands (using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol) before putting on a mask.
  • · Ensure that students, teachers, and staff are aware that they should not touch their masks while wearing them and, if they do, they should wash their hands before and after with soap and water or sanitize hands (using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol).
  • · Ensure teachers and staff are aware that they should wash or sanitize hands (using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol) before and after helping a student put on or adjust a mask.
  • · Ensure that all students and staff are aware that masks should not be worn if they are wet. A wet mask may make it difficult to breathe.
  • · Ensure that all students and staff are aware that they should never share or swap masks.
  • · Students’ masks should be clearly identified with their names or initials, to avoid confusion or swapping. Students’ masks may also be labeled to indicate top/bottom and front/back.
  • · Masks should be stored in a space designated for each student that is separate from others when not being worn (e.g., in individually labeled containers or bags, personal lockers, or cubbies).
  • · Masks should be washed after every day of use and/or before being used again, or if visibly soiled.
  • · Students and schools should consider having additional masks available for students, teachers, and staff in case a back-up mask is needed during the day and to facilitate every day washing of masks.

Stay up to date on the current situation as it evolve. Some reliable sources are New Jersey Poison Information and Education System Hotline at 211 or 1-800-962-1253, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov, World Health Organization at www.who.int, New Jersey Department of Health at COVID19.nj.gov. For additional information visit Cape May County Department of Health at www.cmchealth.net and also like us on Facebook.

 

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