UPDATED Sept. 16 at 9:34 a.m.: OCPS released Monday a COVID-19 dashboard that would allow parents and students to see the infection rates across the county’s schools. The dashboard sorts information by schools and dates in which the cases were reported. The dashboard is automatically updated every day at 11:59 p.m. and can be accessed here.

As students flock back to school under new regulations, some students worry about the effectiveness of masks worn around campus.

OCPS announced Aug 26. that students and faculty were no longer allowed to wear neck gaiters or masks with an exhalation valve at school due to their inefficacy at preventing the spread of COVID-19.   

“I think that [surgical] masks are most protective and should be the one that’s advertised to us. I think [because] gaiters were being advertised people started wearing gaiters. I think we are learning  that fabric masks and the blue mask are more protective,” junior Aja Fischer- Crawford said.

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OCPS enforced regulations on how to wear a mask properly and require students to wear their mask at all times until they are in their car. The administration educates its students and faculty to try to curve the spread of COVID-19. However, OCPS and other districts across the country still reported cases of COVID-19 in schools. OCPS reported 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Sept 4.

“It’s important that my peers and, myself included, have proper mask etiquette because I feel as if we were not to, it could definitely increase the risk of COVID and especially cause our school to shut down,“ junior Thomas Cardinal said. “If I have my peers or myself not wearing a mask or just not following the social distancing rules, I feel it would make me not angry but like disappointed because they’re increasing the risk of having COVID.”

Despite COVID-19 cases within schools, OCPS continues to enforce both wearing masks correctly and social distancing when possible.

BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY Bill Nye explains to his online following how to properly test and wear their make for full protection. video/ Now This News

The CDC recommended that when wearing a mask one should make sure their mouth and nose are covered completely. The mask should extend from the bottom of one’s chin to the top of one’s nose. Famous TV scientist Bill Nye recommends in a video to test your mask out to see if it’s effective. He shows how if one can blow out a match while wearing their mask it’s ineffective.

“I don’t think we can count on people to wear a mask and wear it correctly,” Fisher-Crawford said. “I read this article comparing mask enforcement to the dress code, and how some schools enforce the dress code more harshly than wearing a mask.”

As for acceptable masks at schools, OCPS allows students to bring their own masks or provide them one. Students are able to wear any approved mask as long as it doesn’t break the dress code.

“I think the [administration] is strictly enforcing it. I haven’t seen anyone with their mask off or below their nose. Everyone is pretty much wearing their mask, full coverage,” Cardinal said.

While students come back to school wearing masks, OCPS also created additional safety measures to protect students and faculty on campus. OCPS mandated that all students wear their ID visible to the administration at all times. Cardinal used materials at home to print his student ID onto his mask so it would always be visible to administration. 

“It just got annoying having the mask and having the ID, pulling it out of your pocket to show. And then also, like, just wearing it around your neck or having it in your hand out of your pocket was annoying. So I just thought I was like, why don’t I just put it on a mask, that way they can stop asking me the question and like, I can just go on with my day,” Cardinal said.

OCPS releases updates Tuesday and Friday weekly and are working toward a website to directly inform the public of COVID-19 information.

OCPS released Monday a COVID-19 dashboard that would allow parents and students to see the infection rates across the county’s schools. The dashboard sorts information by schools and dates in which the cases were reported. The dashboard is automatically updated every day at 11:59 p.m. and can be accessed here.

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