Face Mask Protocol

Needham Public Schools Protocol for Face Coverings


Face masks are an effective measure to take in preventing the spread of COVID-19, especially when used in combination with hand washing and social distancing. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes and/or talks; these droplets can land in another person’s mouth, eyes or nose, or be inhaled into the lungs. A large portion of people may be infected with COVID-19 and not have symptoms (asymptomatic); masks can protect the general public by containing the respiratory droplets of an infected person who is asymptomatic, therefore reducing the spread.  The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has provided the following requirements and guidance regarding face masks:


Who Should Wear a Mask?

- Students in grades preschool-12 are required to wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth while in school buildings and/or while on the bus

- If a student or students are at school, and are notified that they were in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, they will need to wear a face mask for the remainder of the day

- Adults are required to wear masks while in school with students.  Fully vaccinated staff can opt to remove masks indoors when in their classroom or office by themselves or when meeting with other vaccinated colleagues

- Face masks must be worn during bus transportation (all students)

- Mask breaks must be provided throughout the school day as determined by the teacher, and the ability for students to maintain a distance of 6 feet while not wearing a mask (in the buildings).  Students do not need to maintain a distance of 6 feet if mask breaks are held outdoors

- Masks must be worn under face shields, unless staff are able to maintain physical distancing of greater than 6 feet from others; in that case, the mask can be removed from under the face shield and must be reapplied once distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained


Who May be Exempt from Wearing a Mask?

- Students who have disability or safety impact may be exempt from wearing a mask

- Nursing will evaluate whether a medical 504 is indicated:

-- Nurses will share information about students’ exemptions with staff directly working with those students

-- Staff who are unable to wear a mask due to disability or safety impact should notify Human Resources and their principal


Who Should Supply the Masks?

- Face masks should be provided by the student/family, a supply of masks is available in each of the buildings for those students who can’t provide own supply or who may forget mask

- Masks must be clearly labeled with the student’s name/initials

- The District will provide face masks for staff, although staff may provide their own and, a supply of disposable masks will be available in each of the buildings

- Students should bring a minimum of 2 cloth face coverings per day in case one becomes soiled and needs to be replaced

- If a student becomes ill during the school day, the nurse will provide a disposable surgical mask to the student to be worn until they are dismissed

- Gaiters/Buffs/Bandanas and masks with valves are not permitted


Removal of Face Masks

- Staff/students will be provided with education re: proper removal and disposal of face masks/cloth face coverings

- Hands must be washed prior to reapplying clean face masks


Mask Breaks

- Mask breaks should occur throughout the day when students can maintain physical/social distancing of 6 feet (while indoors)

- Mask breaks should occur in a well-ventilated area.  If possible, mask breaks should be encouraged when students are outside, and/or if windows are able to be opened

- Mask breaks should occur for a minimum of 10 minutes

- Students should wash/hand sanitize hands before and after removal and/or reapplication of mask

- If mask becomes contaminated during break, a new mask should be applied; soiled disposable face masks should be placed in regular trash receptacle

- After break, student should pick mask up by ear loops/ties and place back on face, covering nose/mouth and chin, and should not touch the outside of the mask

- Cloth/reusable face masks that are soiled should be placed in clearly labeled paper bag and brought home each night for laundering

- If a student needs to cough/sneeze, they should keep their mask on and cough/sneeze into their elbow.  If the mask appears wet from the outside, or feels wet to the student, they should be at least 6 feet away from others, replace the soiled mask with a clean one, and wash their hands







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