CLEAR LAKE — When the Clear Lake School Board earlier this week approved a “Return to Learn” plan for the upcoming school year, part of the discussion was about mandating face mask usage by all students and staff. The board went on to unanimously approve required face mask usage when social distancing is not possible.
Board member Doctor John Brady questioned how effective mask usage would be on younger students. “I think it’s going to be difficult to have masks on pre-school through second grade because they’re going to be snotting through a mask within hours. Who is going to sanitize the masks that you are going to have?”
Brady says there’s been inconsistent information about masks protecting people from COVID-19. “The latest is masks may not protect you from getting it, but it can protect you from spreading it, especially if you are asymptomatic, and I have a hard time with if I’m asymptomatic, if I don’t have a cough or sneezing, how am I spreading it? But I also have a 12-year-old that said to me ‘make sure it’s mandatory, because I’m not going to wear one if nobody else is’. Different age groups are going to look differently at that. I don’t have any problem with making it mandatory, you just need to be able to say how long does that go until?”
Superintendent Doug Gee says there will be times that teachers will be able to teach without a mask on as long as they are at a proper distance. “Staff are required to wear a cloth face covering at all times when in the same room or space, except when in front of the room teaching and six feet away from students. I kind of wanted to be able to give staff that ability to, if they were outside six feet and in they are in front of the room, that they could take that mask off so kids could see them.”
The school district has purchased two cloth face coverings for every student and staff member with the use of CARES Act money. Plastic face shields will also be available for some staff members to use who have difficulties wearing cloth masks.