Face masks will likely go down as one of the most enduring visuals of 2020, and for good reason.
As the California Department of Public Health has noted, there is scientific evidence to show the use of cloth face coverings during a pandemic can help reduce disease transmission by limiting the airborne spread of infectious particles when people speak, cough or sneeze. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said last week that “face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have.”
Still, as districts forge ahead with their reopening plans, questions continue to arise over their use in school settings — including which grade levels require them, which students are exempt, whether plastic face shields are sufficient, and if face coverings are required when there’s six feet of physical distancing.
To provide some clarity, OCDE’s Legal Services division worked with the Orange County Health Care Agency to develop a list of frequently asked questions and answers that will continue to be updated as new information emerges from federal, state or local public health or educational agencies. You can find it here:
We should note that this document can also be found on the website for Orange County Together: A guide to safely reopening schools in the COVID-19 era. Developed by OCDE representatives and school district leaders across the county, the Orange County Together resource provides detailed considerations for resuming on-site instruction complemented by online learning, and it also continues to be updated.
The Orange County Department of Education does not oversee the reopening plans of local school districts or create health policies impacting public safety, but OCDE assists districts with legal clarifications and guidance.