LA County school district tells students they must wear non-cloth masks

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Last week, we talked about the Biden administration making 400 million N95 masks available to the American public to help protect them from the spread of Covid-19. Part of the effort is to get people masked, but also to get people in N95 masks specifically. The reason is that health officials have determined that cloth masks are no longer effective as a means of protection against the spread of the Omicron variant. Because of this, the Los Angeles Unified School District will require its students to wear “well fitting, non-cloth masks with nose wire” while employees must wear “surgical grade or higher” masks. The policy took effect yesterday and the district will provide masks for students that need them.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is prohibiting students from wearing only cloth face masks on campus as the country grapples with a continued surge of COVID-19 infections driven by the omicron variant.

The district announced updated guidance on Friday requiring students to wear “well-fitting, non-cloth masks with a nose wire” both indoors and outdoors. Employees will have to wear surgical grade masks or higher.

Students and employees will be able to get masks from the district if they need them.

“Our in-school [coronavirus infection] rates have dropped but we are continuing to be diligent and agile in creating the safest learning environment,” district spokesperson Shannon Haber told the Los Angeles Times.

The country’s second-largest school system also requires weekly COVID-19 testing of all students and employees, and they must present a negative test to come onto campus.

[From NPR]

According to the LA Times, LAUSD currently has 38,703 active Covid cases among their 400,000 students on public campuses. Of the 887 campuses, 875 have at least one active case with 733 campuses reporting more than 10 cases. However, of those, only 12 cases were school linked. So the measures the district is taking are both necessary and effective so far. My kids are no longer in LAUSD, so we don’t have this policy yet. But non-cloth, well-fitted masks are suggested in our district, so the mandate is probably on its way. I hope this helps. I’m sure it’s the same everywhere but our schools are a mess right now. Class populations are so erratic, teachers’ lessons plans have been demolished. Classes are being combined because there are so few kids or teachers available. Our district sent home Covid tests and we’re getting new Covid positive reports each night. Our schools provide PCR tests on campus every day so I always have that if my kids present any symptoms. As far as I know our district and LAUSD has no plan to return to virtual schooling. I know most of the kids want to stay on campus, but even I’m wondering if it’s a sustainable choice. The vaccinated rate is good, but nothing is fool proof.

Speaking of masks, I asked on the Biden post if my cloth mask with an inserted filter in it was okay and I think I got my answer at my mammogram last week. They would not let me in. I had to go outside and put on one of their paper masks with a nose wire because they refuse any cloth masks in the building. I’d ordered a box of N95s after that and I’m still waiting for them. Most people when I go out have already made the switch to paper masks here in town. But my husband teaches at USC and yesterday was their first day back on campus after being virtual for the start of this semester. He said very few people had masks on. I asked him to go to the local drug store to pick up a $10 box of masks to put in the back of class for students not wearing one. I get maybe not wearing the ‘right mask’ currently, if you’re waiting for supplies to replenish or something. But no mask? Thank goodness LAUSD has a better handle on their students.

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27 Responses to “LA County school district tells students they must wear non-cloth masks”

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  1. Am says:

    I work in a healthcare support role fitting hearing aids in a big box store. I’m unable to social distance during my hours long appointments and just got word that no, none of my extra screening protocols will be considered. As well as the fun news of I cannot turn anyone away. Mask or no mask. I had two positive patients this month and I’m so scared and pissed off.

    My point is that getting people to wear a face covering, let alone an appropriate one, is an uphill battle.

    • OriginalLaLa says:

      It wouldn’t be such an uphill battle if gov’ts mandated them in public settings – they are mandatory by gov’t orders here (Canada) and while some/few people are assholes about it, the overwhelming vast majority do it because they won’t get any service otherwise.

      • BrainFog 💉💉😷 says:

        They are mandated here in germany aswell, and we’ve been using the non-cloth ones for.. I don’t know, at least a year? I have FFP2 ones in different colours. This will stay for a while so why not have fun with it.
        Compliance with the masking is pretty high, too. Have seen exactly 1 non compliant person in the last half year here, and she pretended to have a medical exception (narrator’s voice: she did not have such an exception). And that’s it. One loony. One single loony in all of 2021 and 2022 so far. Hooray.
        My point: holy yes, governments need to act and mandate this stuff. It works.

    • Charm says:

      I bet if u asked any lawyer they wd tell u that u could sue ur employer & win.

  2. Cate says:

    My kid’s school implemented this requirement a few weeks ago, but they aren’t providing masks. We were able to find some surgical masks for kids at Target, but the KN95 and KF94s we had to order took forever to ship. I’m all for upgrading masks at this point but the actual logistics are still a mess.

    • Jennifer says:

      Same, I used to use Bona.Fide and they have not shipped my order and it has been a month. Honeywell shipped right away but took two weeks. I hear Home Depot does IRL sales.

  3. Jen+d says:

    Im still teaching online, but our school district is doing the same upon return. We’re not even letting kids bring their own – we will be supplying the masks. I’ve been going into the school to get stuff and occasionally teach with better wifi, and I have to get tested every other day. It really interests me to see what is going on with schools that are back in person. I just don’t know we’re going to do it.

  4. Holly says:

    Surgical masks gap hugely at the sides of my face, no way can that be better than a tight fitting 4 layer cloth mask with filter? Eeesh. I work in a school in Oklahoma and we are back in person with masks recommended, hardly see students in them. Usually only about 1 in 7 in a mask in Target, fewer still in Walmart or Crest. Guess the 10,000+ cases a day are all fakes and it’s not here.

    • Jennifer says:

      Layer: surgical and then a cloth on top.

    • Genevieve says:

      You can improve the fit of surgical masks:

      But that being said, my school division requires surgical masks (and provides them to staff and students). I’m still wearing my own KN95s.

    • Jezz says:

      Tie a knot in the elastic on both sides right at your cheekbone, and then tuck the little bulge in — this will make a surgical mask much much more airtight.

    • SJP-NYC says:

      I make 4 layer origami masks that fit high up on the nose and go securely under the chin and no gaps on the side, plus my nose wire is kick ass so very secure – so I completely understand your concerns about surgical mask.

    • catlady says:

      About a month ago I went into a hospital for a quick medical procedure. I had to take off my well-fitting 3-layer cloth mask for their ill-fitting surgical mask. 3 days later I was diagnosed with Covid. It was the only place I had been in about a week. LuckIly I just had mild symptoms (fully vacced and boostered) .

    • souperkay says:

      Surgical masks are slightly better at capturing particulate than cloth masks but this is an aerosolized, airborne virus. The only masks that offer protection are KN95, KF94, or N95 masks.

      In an indoor setting where you don’t know everyone’s vaccination status, a cloth mask of any type can be overwhelmed by ambient omicron in about 20 minutes. Surgical is slightly better at around 40 minutes, but a N95 will not be overwhelmed until near the 4 hour mark.

      The only reason cloth masks were ever recommended was because of supply chain issues and the previous strains of COVID were not as wildly infectious as omicron. We always needed n95 masks for an aerosolized, airborne virus. It is not safe to be using cloth masks with omicron.

  5. Shell says:

    What’s the deal with reusing the kn95 masks though? Are we able to reuse them now or do we still have to throw them out after each wear?

    • Jennifer says:

      You can reuse, you just have to dry them out in a paper bag for a few days in between.

    • minimi says:

      there are some studies that say you can use them at least 5 times if you put then to dry at room temperature (shouldn’t be too high, 19-21C°) for 7 days. So you can have 7 masks that you rotate every week. I think they can also potentially be cooked in the oven at 80 C° for 60 min, but this doesn’t work for FFP2/KN95 with any plastic parts. They should anyway be used always by the same person.

      This only applies for private usage of the mask and not really for work in highly contagious environments, like a hospital.

      In Germany and other European countries we use the FFP2/KN95 already since some time (mandatory in some situations) and I think a lot of people follow the 5 day rule with drying at room temperature.

      • souperkay says:

        do not cook them. do not place them in UV cell phone cleaners. rotate masks & visually inspect on the inside white part for discoloration & mold. Rest them in paper bags, folded over or closed if you can.

    • souperkay says:

      They are respirators so with normal use, they can last a long time. You want to rotate masks, with at least 24 hours of non wearing. COVID survives on surfaces, poorly, for about 6 hours. Best if the resting mask is drying out in a paper bag, folded over or closed.

      You want to check the white interior of the mask for discoloration and mold growth. As long as it is not discolored, and there is no mold, you can keep reusing it.

      The first part to wear on the masks in COVID settings is the elastic.

  6. TeamAwesome says:

    I teach at a community college that has had a mask mandate since students came back to campus last March. I have to keep a stash of school provided masks because there’s always one who forgets or can’t be bothered to get their own. I double mask, 3 ply paper with a fabric mask on top, because sucks to my asmar, and that’s what has worked for me. We provided singing masks for my choir last year and they ALL hated them.

  7. Jessica says:

    I heard a recommendation to upgrade from cloth masks shortly after Christmas, so I ordered some KN95s. Took 3 weeks to ship. Thank goodness I work from home! Last weekend, we went out to a minor league hockey game and I swear, I saw less than 10 other people wearing a mask. Someone actually yelled at us to “take off [our] masks [we’re] in Florida!” Like, that’s specifically why I’m wearing one my dude.

  8. Ennie says:

    My doctor friend I went to see used bith and n95 or kn95 underneath a kf94 which helps maintain glasses on. I was fed up with my glasses falling with the kn95, I made the switch.
    I usually wear only 1, but I am considering wearing two if I go to a crowded place by necessity.
    Where I live, cases are in the high umbers and they are only testing one person per family.

  9. Lucille says:

    We’ve been obligated to wear medical masks since some time in 2020 and N95 masks for over a year. I can’t believe people in the US were wearing cloth masks for the last two years.

  10. Dory says:

    I have seen only a few people lately in cloth masks anyway; I thought everyone made the switch around the holidays to KN95 and N95 or at least paper surgical with Omicron surging?? I also think most colleges require them now indoors. And workplaces.

  11. Grace says:

    As a teacher, I 100% support this. Not easy to do, but I am behind this. You should see some of the crap masks students come to class wearing! No safety, yet I am expected to be in a classroom with them for HOURS on end. Nope!

  12. Likeyoucare says:

    In my country the masks are quite cheap, in Asia the masks and test kit are in abundace.
    Feel sorry and sympatize to all of you who face these problem.

    Cloth masks are not good for students who have to spend 4 hours or more in the classroom. They migh cause more harm to the students.