When school resumes in the Cape district, all students and staff will be required to wear face coverings in school buildings, at bus stops, on buses, on all school property and at all school functions.
Standards for face coverings are included in the school reopening plan at capehenlopenschools.com. Face coverings should be two-ply and cover the mouth and nose; neck gaiters and coverings that are too thin will not be allowed.
Masks can be disposable or washable, homemade or store-bought, and the top and bottom should be secured around the ears and head with no open flap at the bottom.
On Aug. 11, the state weighed in on face coverings based on a recent study of the types of face masks now available for purchase.
“It's important to highlight the importance of the different masks and knowing what works the best,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health.
The type of material used is important, Rattay said. Masks should have multiple layers of fabric with no valves that would allow droplets to escape into the air.
Rattay said studies show multiple-layered face masks are almost as effective as the high-grade N95 mask used by healthcare professionals. Surgical masks are also effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, she said.
Gaiters, which are single-layer material worn around the neck and pulled up to cover the mouth and nose when needed, do not prevent the spread of water droplets from someone's mouth, and can exacerbate the amount spread, she said.
“You may even have an increase in spread of droplets with these types of face coverings,” Rattay said.
Face shields alone also do not provide a seal around the mouth and nose to prevent the spread of droplets, she said.
At Cape, staff members will have the option to wear a face shield with a mask or face covering. DPH has supplied more than 8,000 masks, 800 face shields, 4,000 gowns, as well as gloves and N95 masks to the district, and school officials have purchased additional PPE supplies.
Clear face coverings will be available for students with special needs, speech pathologists, English language learners and immersion teachers to use when visually seeing the mouth is necessary, the reopening plan states.
Cape’s masks standards state that face coverings will be considered student attire and must adhere to the student dress code. Still, students have the opportunity to show their school spirit and individuality while meeting district requirements.
Through their business Dorman’s Custom Apparel, Cape High grads Craig Dorman and Connie Wilson are selling three-ply washable masks that represent all Cape schools; order by Sunday, Aug. 23.