Guidance for K-12 school administrators on the use of masks in schools
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Guidance for K-12 school administrators on the use of masks in schools

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      Updated Dec. 18, 2020

      Revisions were made on December 18, 2020 to update information including describing the protection offered to individuals wearing masks and to make the webpage easier to use and understand.

      We are learning more about COVID-19 every day. This guidance may be updated at any time and is subject to potentially rapid change as the science evolves.

      CDC suggests that all school operation considerations provide guidance on behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19. When used consistently and correctly, along with other important mitigation strategies, masks may 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.

      SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is primarily transmitted by respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe. CDC recommends community use of masks, specifically non-valved, multi-layer cloth masks to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Masks are primarily intended to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by reducing emission of virus-laden droplets, or “source control”. Source control refers to use of well-fitting cloth face masks or facemasks to cover a person’s mouth and nose to prevent spread of respiratory secretions when they are talking, sneezing, or coughing. Several studies1-4 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 (presymptomatic) can still transmit the virus to other people. Masks can protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected. There is also evidence that masks offer some protection to the wearer by preventing the wearer from breathing in small, or fine droplets and particles.

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