Do different masks keep you safer?

Posters+are+hung+up+on+the+walls+all+around+the+school+showing+kids+the+correct+ways+to+wear+a+mask.+

Posters are hung up on the walls all around the school showing kids the correct ways to wear a mask.

Grace Green

Students wear many different types of masks to school. Some of these include reusable cloth masks, disposable surgical masks or N95 masks. All Washington Township schools require masks to be worn indoors and any kind of mask is allowed to be worn as long as your nose and mouth are covered.

At the start of the pandemic, any mask was acceptable to use in public as long as it was cleaned after every few uses and stored properly. Recent studies have shown cloth and surgical masks provide minimal protection compared to N95 masks. 

The CDC says a mask should fit close to the face without any gaps and should be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The CDC has also released ways to get more protection out of masks, including: wearing two masks with a surgical mask on the bottom and a cloth mask on top, knotting and tucking ear loops where they join the edge of the mask and using masks that attach behind the neck and head elastic bands or ties. 

For a long time, the CDC did not recommend anyone other than healthcare providers wear N95 masks because there was a shortage and they did not want to risk professionals running out. Now, the CDC states that a shortage is no longer a concern and they are able to recommend N95 protection for everyone. 

As positive COVID-19 cases rise in the colder months this year, it is important for the CDC to update their recommendations to stay safe and be able to provide more protective masks to the public. 

Different masks can determine how long it would take to transmit COVID-19. According to findings from a 2021 spring study by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists Pandemics Response Task Force, it would take one person infected with the virus wearing an N95 mask and someone not infected wearing an N95 mask 25 hours to transmit COVID-19. This is compared to both people wearing cloth masks, which would take 27 minutes to transmit. If both people are not wearing masks, the virus takes 15 minutes to transmit.