A guide for back to school face masks

Students hang out, while following the CDC's guidelines on  face masks.

Contributed by Erica Beedle

Students hang out, while following the CDC’s guidelines on face masks.

With the recent announcement that students will be returning on October 13th, many of the students, families, and staff have been asking questions regarding face masks. Therefore, this is the perfect time to make sure to know what the CDC recommends for our safety, which masks are best to use and how stylish they look, as well as, how to test if your mask is effective.

CDC Recommendations

On the CDC website, they have made many recommendations on what qualities of masks are best. To start, they state that face masks should have multiple layers of protection to prevent particles from getting out of the mask. Another recommendation they have is the mask you are using, should fit snugly on your face. This is to prevent particles escaping from the edges of your mask, as easily.

Another recommendation is to make sure your mask covers your mouth and nose. If your nose or mouth is uncovered while wearing a mask, it will defeat the purpose of the mask’s protection, and you will still be able to spread germs easily.

There are some practices the CDC does not recommend when choosing a face mask. They do not recommend choosing masks made from harsh materials. This will make it hard for you to stay comfortable when wearing said mask. The CDC also does not recommend masks with air valves. The air valves in masks will still allow for the Coronavirus particles to get through it. This makes the mask pointless due to losing it’s protection. 

The CDC has also recommended for citizens to not use N95 masks. These are the type of masks medical professionals are using as personal protection equipment, or PPE. The masks work great and help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, but the CDC does not recommend them due to the masks being only intended for the use of doctors and medical professionals, during this time. So, refrain from buying up N95 masks, in order to continue to help and support those frontline health-care workers.

The CDC does however, recommend that children under two should not wear face masks, due to the risk of suffocation. 

Masks and Styles

With the CDC’s recommendations in mind, thousands of people have made homemade reusable face masks. Made with multiple layers of fabric for protection, these masks are made to last long periods of time, as well as be washable. These face masks are custom made by those individuals, with all different styles of fabric, making them unique and perfect for the person wearing it. 

An example on how to make your own protective face mask can be found here

Companies have also started production of face masks. Stores and companies such as Target, Walmart, Old Navy, and VistaPrint, have produced masks with multiple layers of fabric for protection, and have made masks of different general sizes to accommodate children and adults. This, however, could be a disadvantage of buying a mask, due to not fully knowing if it will fit your face perfectly. These masks have many different styles and come in many different fabric patterns, creating for lots of different choices on face mask style options.

Some luxury and designer companies have also started to dabble in mask production. Luxury fashion brands, such as Off White, Kate Spade, and Nordstrom, have started making face masks, and in Off White’s case, designer masks. Off White, started to produce face masks that retail for about $105 a pop, adding onto their designer clothing line. Some other brands like Kitsch and Baublebar have also made face masks, despite not being specifically fashion brands. However, many of these designer masks have been seen to be way more affordable than the rest of their brand’s collection.

The Candlestick Test

To help explain how face masks were effective, Bill Nye conducted a new test dubbed The Candlestick Test, to help show how masks block the movement of air. With the blocking of air, respiratory droplets in that air are then blocked from escaping from the masks. Thus preventing the spread of germs, and protecting the people around you.

To perform this test, light a candle, put on a face mask, and try to blow out the candle with the mask on. If the candle does not blow out, then the mask is effective at blocking air movement and germs. If the candle does blow out, then the mask used is not as effective at stopping air movement and therefore stopping germs from spreading as easily.

Masks are now a crucial part of everyday life, and with Perry reopening in October, it is important to wear masks and make sure they follow CDC recommendations. It is also important to make sure your mask is effective and comfortable, in order to keep you and others around you safe.