Philadelphia School District changes mask policy, says cloth coverings alone are not acceptable

The school district says surgical masks, KN95 and N95 face coverings are preferred for those looking to wear a single mask.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The School District of Philadelphia has updated its masking requirements for students and staff.

Cloth masks alone will no longer be acceptable.

Students and staff who choose to wear a cloth mask should wear a 3-ply disposable mask underneath it, which the district currently provides.

The school district says surgical masks, KN95 and N95 face coverings are preferred for those looking to wear a single mask.

Starting February 7, all district schools and offices will be provided a supply of adult KN95 masks to distribute to staff who may want them.

SEE ALSO: Philly seeing drop in COVID-19 cases, but mask mandate remains in place
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"If you think about where we are with this particular wave and case rates right now, we're probably several months away from a place where we will have the kind of safety to drop all the current restrictions," Bettigole said.



"We've done a very effective job in keeping the transmission rate in our schools down but also keeping our staff and students safe so we can have in-person learning," said district spokesperson Monica Lewis.

Parent Nakisha Hendricks agrees with the decision.

She says her daughter Paige is always using a disposable mask.

"Just have to do what you have to do to protect yourself and keep your immune system boosted," said Hendricks.

Jessie Todd's wife is a teacher for the school district.

"She just really enjoys being in the classroom with the kids and feels like a few risks are worth it," said Todd.

But he says wearing the mask for so long has been difficult for his daughter.

"Having trouble being heard, not being able to communicate with friends and kids that age. I know we'd be willing to take a little more risk for our kids to be getting the proper education," said Todd.

Following the latest CDC guidance, Temple University also adopted a similar mask policy as the Philadelphia School District.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Chery Bettigole says she is optimistic as the city continues to battle coronavirus and the latest wave of the omicron variant, but says the pandemic restrictions will remain in place for now.

"If you think about where we are with this particular wave and case rates right now, we're probably several months away from a place where we will have the kind of safety to drop all the current restrictions," Bettigole said.

She said eventually they will lift the mask mandate, but "not at this time."

The city is seeing an average of 554 new COVID-19 cases per day compared to just about 1,000 cases per day last week.

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