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The CDC Just Announced This New Face Mask Rule

Add these to your school supply list.

The continuing spread of the coronavirus means that the beginning of the new school year has stirred up uncertainty and anxiety in many parents, driven by one big question and few answers. Namely, when the No. 1 strategy for preventing COVID-19 is social distancing, how do you keep children and teachers safe in crowded classrooms, where that's inherently impossible?

On Aug. 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broke its silence on the matter by issuing new guidance for safe school reopenings. Namely, the CDC is recommending the wearing of face masks in class, that masks be added to school supply lists and that certain teachers should consider wearing "clear face coverings" on the job.

RELATED: The CDC Just Announced You Shouldn't Wear These Masks

"When used consistently and correctly, along with important mitigation strategies, cloth face coverings are important to help slow the spread of COVID-19," the agency said. "Appropriate and consistent use of cloth face coverings is most important when students, teachers, and staff are indoors and when social distancing of at least six feet is difficult to implement or maintain."

For example: The CDC officially recommends wearing masks in class when social distancing isn't possible, during passing periods and on the bus or during carpooling. During recess, mealtimes and gym and music classes, the agency says face masks "may be considered."

Policy could cause bullying, parental complaints

The agency also warned that face mask policies could lead to bullying—both of students by other students, and school staff by parents. "Stigma, discrimination, or bullying may arise due to wearing or not wearing a cloth face covering. Schools should have a plan to prevent and address harmful or inappropriate behavior," the agency said. "Not all families will agree with school policies about cloth face coverings. Schools should have a plan to address challenges that may arise and refer parents, caregivers, and guardians to CDC's guidance on cloth face coverings."

Some exceptions apply

They agency notes some exceptions: Face masks shouldn't be worn by children younger than 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who can't remove the mask without assistance.

And some teachers are advised to "consider wearing clear face coverings" if their students are young and learning to read, are deaf or hard of hearing, are learning English as a second language or have disabilities. Cloth face masks might impede clear communication with those groups.

The mask recommendations are backed by solid scientific data that consistent face mask wearing prevents COVID transmission, as does hand washing, social distancing and avoiding crowds. And to make sure you and your family are safe, don't miss this essential list of 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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