Health Care Agency launches mask message contest for students

The OC Health Care Agency is inviting elementary, middle and high schoolers to submit creative mask designs, essays and social media content as part of its Mask Message Contest.

The contest, which launched in October, is billed as an independent learning project to help public and private school students become better informed about face coverings and other non-medical ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 and get life back to normal.

Mask Message Contest graphic

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health have both called for masks in public settings, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Experts say they reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. In fact, CDC Director Robert Redfield has called face coverings “the most important, powerful public health tool we have.”

Schools with winning entries in the “Mask Message Contest” will receive technology grants for Wi-Fi hotspots and more. Officials say the deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 19, and students may enter any or all of these categories:

Mask art

The mask design contest challenges students to come up with a cool, creative mask that others will want to wear. A prize will be awarded to one student per school in each of Orange County’s five supervisorial districts. In addition, a supply of masks with the top design will be presented to the grade level of the winning entry at each school.

Written essay

An essay writing competition challenges students to persuade readers to protect themselves and others in their community by wearing a face covering. Prizes for first, second and third place will be awarded to schools with winning entries.

Social media

Finally, students are encouraged to create compelling social media videos and other content conveying the importance of face coverings to prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Prizes for first, second and third place will be awarded to the winners’ schools.

“We want this contest to be as inclusive as possible,” said County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau. “It is critical that students help to normalize mask wearing and understand the repercussions of a COVID-19 outbreak in the school system. The last thing we want is to have to close classrooms or schools, quarantine or have sick classmates and teachers.”

To peruse the contest rules and download an entry form, visit

Mask Message Contest flier