Non-medical face coverings/masks (cloth)

Promoting Healthy Hygiene Practices/Behaviors that Reduce Spread > Non-medical face coverings/masks

Masks (non-medical covering or cloth) are a recommended 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.

The role of the school nurse is to advocate for appropriate and consistent use of masks when students, teachers, and staff are indoors and when social distancing of at least 6 feet is difficult to implement or maintain.

Key Considerations:

  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents are not recommended to be worn in school. This type of mask does not provide source control.
  • Procedures for mask hygiene including
    • Masks should not be shared or swapped between students or staff.
    • Procedures for safely storing masks when not being worn (e.g., in individually labeled containers or bags, personal lockers, or cubbies).
    • Labeling masks to identify ownership.
    • Educating individuals to wash masks after every day of use and/or before being used again, or if visibly soiled.
    • Providing additional masks for students and teachers as needed.
  • Instances when a mask should not be worn (e.g. younger than 2 years old, has trouble breathing, unconscious, high intensity activities, etc).
  • Instances when appropriate and consistent use of a mask may be challenging (e.g. younger students, individuals with breathing difficulties, individuals with special healthcare needs, etc).
    Instances when teachers and staff may consider using a clear mask (e.g. interacting with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, individuals in English as a second language class, etc).
  • Applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, ordinances, and other sources of authority, including district and school policies and procedures, and applicable standards of practice.

NASN Resources

Return to School Video Series: Wearing Cloth Face Coverings [English and Spanish]

CDC Resources

How to Safely Wear and Take off a Mask Print Resource

Guidance for K-12 School Administrators for Masks in Schools

Use Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

How to Wear Masks

How to Store and Wash Masks

Additional Considerations for the Use of Masks Among K-12 Students

Considerations for Wearing Masks

Other Resources

Cloth Face Coverings | American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

COVID-19: Proper Use, Reuse And Disposal Of Masks, Verified By Experts | BoldSky Limitless Living

How to Safely Sanitize Every Type of Face Mask | Healthline

Autoclaving, Alcohol not the Best Options for Disinfecting, Reusing Face Masks | University of Cincinnati

Fact check: Wearing a face mask will not cause hypoxia, hypoxemia or hypercapnia | USA Today

Should Kids Wear Face Masks? We Asked a Pediatrician | Los Angeles Times

Low-Cost Measurement of Face Mask Efficacy for Filtering Expelled Droplets During Speech | Science Advances

Resources Shared by School Nurses

See what school nurses have developed or are sharing in NASN's online discussions.