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Face Coverings in School: The Top 5 Questions Answered

Back-to-school shopping this year is going to look a bit different. You need to add face coverings to the list of must-have items. What kind of face coverings? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute.

Here’s how the decision was made.

After speaking extensively with health experts from the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital, as well as teachers, administrators and families, Superintendent Addison Davis made the decision to require face coverings at school when social distancing is not possible. 

Since the decision was made, some of our families have asked important questions. Here are the answers to five of the most frequently asked questions about face coverings:

Will there be exemptions to the face covering requirement?

Yes. Students and staff do not need to wear their face covering when eating or drinking; when a face covering would cause an impairment due to an existing health condition; when students and staff are observing social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines; if a person needs to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired; when a face covering would be an impediment to instruction; and for students and staff who are participating in recess and physical education classes while social distancing.

What happens if a child forgets, loses or damages their face covering?

If a student forgets, loses or damages their face covering, the district will provide a disposable face covering for that day while the requirement is in place.

What happens if a student refuses to wear a face covering?

Face coverings will be required for all students, staff and visitors unless social distancing can be maintained. Every attempt will be made to ensure that the student and the student’s parents understand the importance of wearing a face covering. The district will work with families to identify the more appropriate learning path if face coverings will not be worn.

How will the face covering requirement apply to students with special needs?

Appropriate accommodations will be made based on the individualized needs of the students.

Can students and staff bring their own face coverings?

Yes. Face coverings must comply with the dress code found in the Code of Student Conduct so that they do not disrupt school activities and are not obscene or otherwise inflammatory.

Let’s elaborate on that last one. On Day 1, students will receive three reusable masks from their school. However, students also have the option of wearing a face covering they’ve brought from home, but it cannot be distracting.

Face masks, gaitors and face shields are allowed—but use common sense. A face shield with a unicorn horn and a pony face is probably pretty distracting. It is up to each school’s administrators to determine what is and isn’t allowed on their campus. Don’t put them in the position of taking away your child’s face covering.

If you have additional questions about face coverings in our schools, we have a list of FAQs on our website,

Laura Cross
Laura Cross
Hillsborough County Public Schools.

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