The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes into our lives. This situation that has been going on for over six months seems to be going nowhere, and we’ll have to get used to our new normal. For this, many states in the USA have been slowly adjusting and implementing new rules to accommodate our new lifestyle in the safest way possible.
During the fall, many schools and colleges have opened their doors to start the school year, which will be very different from the rest. Online classes and homework are more prevalent now than ever, and in-person classes and activities now have a lot more rules to follow. The requirement of face masks is the one consistent rule across school districts, so let’s take a look at which ones are requiring surgical masks for their employers.
Reopening of schools and their protection rules
This fall, many schools and colleges have reopened their doors for the start of the new school year. This time around, things have been turned upside down, and students and professors, as well as all the employees inside the instalments, will have to get used to all the new rules we must follow.
But, as school districts around the country are planning to reopen their classrooms this fall, the decision to make face masks mandatory varies widely across states. This issue has divided urban and rural schools as well, but it has mainly taken a political dimension. For example, in Iowa, Democratic-leaning cities like Iowa City and Des Moines are requiring masks, while conservative and smaller cities are leaving the decision to the parents.
Among the states who are requiring their teachers to wear masks inside the classroom are Alaska, California, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Washington, and only some of them require the masks for students as well. In other states, this decision was left to local officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already recommended both students and teachers to wear masks as much as possible to prevent the reopening of schools causing a new wave of cases during the fall. To read all of their recommendations and guidance for the school year, you can go here.
Level of protection from surgical masks
Surgical masks are a type of disposable face mask that is loose-fitting, acting primarily as a physical barrier between the wearer’s nose and mouth and the harmful particles in the environment. These types of face masks, just like N95 masks, shouldn’t be shared between users, and can be worn with a face shield for more virus protection.
They’re often referred to as regular face masks, but it’s important to know that any face mask can’t be called a surgical mask. These are specifically regulated and certified for medical use, so they can’t be easily substituted by any face mask. Surgical masks can vary in their level of thickness, offering varying levels of protection according to this, but also varying in the breathability of the mask.
As we mentioned, like N95 masks, surgical masks are disposable face masks, meaning that they can only be used once (and always by the same person), and then discarded appropriately. The mask should be removed once the person finishes using it, or if the mask gets damaged or the person is finding it hard to breathe with it. It’s important to wash the hands after handling the used face mask.
Surgical masks, as we mentioned, act primarily as a physical barrier, protecting the wearer against droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter of other people’s respiratory secretions. As a filter, they can only trap larger particles, but they don’t filter smaller airborne particles like dust, smoke, or microorganisms like the flu virus, which can be released from sneezes, cough, or by talking.
The coronavirus: why this measure is important
The SARS-CoV-2 is a new species from the genus of coronavirus, which have been known to cause respiratory illnesses in humans for decades. These illnesses tend to be very mild, but this new species doesn’t seem to be behaving the same way as other coronaviruses so far, being able to cause serious consequences in people’s health.
After the first case, reported in December of last year in Wuhan, China, experts quickly realized this virus was unknown. Since then, the word ‘pandemic’ was thrown around, as the possibility for it to spread to the rest of the world was imminent. In February of this year, the predictions became true, and many countries were severely affected by the virus.
As expected, healthcare systems around the world and the United States started to collapse with the overwhelming amount of cases every day. The virus causes mostly very mild flu-like symptoms, with a great number of cases even being asymptomatic. But, a group of people are considered to be at high risk of developing a more severe form and complications from the virus.
Older people, comorbidities like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, or any type of organ failure, as well as immunocompromised patients, are among the most vulnerable to developing severe forms of COVID-19. At the same time, kids seem to be the least affected by the virus, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be protected, since they’re considered to be a big source of infection for adults.
Even though the size of these severe cases is relatively small in comparison to the mild and moderate ones, a lot of people getting infected at once makes this percentage a lot more considerable. For this reason, preventing the spread of the virus is extremely important to protect those who are more vulnerable. Since this is a respiratory virus, the use of face masks is a priority to achieve this.
To stay protected during school season, make sure to stock up on the best antiviral gear. You can find lots of options, including reusable cloth masks, KN95 masks, or 3M N95 masks, which you can buy in bulk or wholesale. Anyone who uses their face mask is doing their part to help during this difficult time.