Updated Feb. 26, 2021
Face coverings are masks or material worn over the nose and mouth to block and slow down respiratory droplets released when exhaling, coughing, sneezing, talking, shouting, and singing. When an infected person wears a face covering, the face covering acts as a barrier (or source control) to that person's respiratory droplets. This protects other people from the infected person's respiratory droplets. Face coverings are not considered respiratory protection. They do not prevent the wearer from inhaling particles from the environment as effectively as a properly-fitted respirator, and they are not tested to any accepted standard for respiratory protection. Remember the saying, "My mask protects you, your mask protects me."
Anyone who enters an MCPS facility is required to wear a face covering. This includes all MCPS students, employees, contractors, volunteers, and visitors over the age of two (2). Students and employees who are unable to wear a face covering because of an impairment, disability, or medical condition may request an exemption, permitting them to enter MCPS facilities without a face covering. Employees may request an ADA accommodation using MCPS Form 270-6. Students and families may work with their IEP teams to determine if they should not wear a face covering at school.
Face coverings are required as part of MCPS' ongoing efforts to protect students, employees, visitors, and the community from COVID-19. Face coverings are also required for compliance with county requirements (Montgomery County Executive Order 122-20 AM).
Please remember that face coverings are not a substitute for 6-foot physical distancing. Even while wearing a face covering, people must still stay 6 feet apart to effectively protect against COVID-19.
Face coverings must be worn at all times at MCPS facilities, with certain exceptions. Exceptions (when face coverings do not need to
be worn, but physical distancing is still required):
Additional exceptions may be determined on a
case-by-case basis by the Office of Operations and the Department of Systemwide Safety
and Emergency Management.
MCPS will provide face coverings, meeting CDC and county recommendations, for all MCPS students and employees. Students and staff may bring in their own face coverings, if they meet MCPS requirements.
Face coverings must:
Face coverings with air filters may be used; however, use only filters designed for face coverings. Do not make your own face covering filters from filters designed for machines and equipment (vacuum bags, HVAC/furnace filters, automotive air filters, industrial equipment filters, etc.) because these filters can contain fiberglass fibers or they can be treated with tackifier chemicals (sticky chemical products designed to help filters trap air particles), antimicrobial chemicals, and fire retardant chemicals. Inhaling fiberglass fibers or tackifier, antimicrobial, and fire retardant vapors can be harmful.
Acceptable types of masks and face coverings:
Unacceptable types of masks and face coverings:
Respirators, like N95s, and surgical masks
intended for medical use should not be used for general use – these should be
reserved for people who need them, like first responders and medical
Double masking, wearing a mask on top of another mask, is permitted if both masks meet MCPS requirements. Double masking should NOT be performed if:
Before putting a face covering on, identify the outside and inside,
top and bottom. Remember to only handle face coverings with clean hands before putting them on:
Putting the face covering on:
Wearing the face covering:
Taking the face covering off:
Test the fit of the face covering:
When you have a new face covering, check that it fits you properly before wearing it in public. Everyone's face is shaped differently, so not every face covering will fit you properly. Some will be too tight and others will be too loose. You can check the fit of a face covering by putting it on and seeing if it moves out of place, slides down off your nose, or creates discomfort while:
If the face covering does not stay snug and in place, try adjusting the fit (if it is adjustable) or replace it with a different face covering that fits better.
If you are not used to wearing a face covering
all day, it can be uncomfortable when you first start wearing one all day at work or school. You can practice wearing a face covering at home before you need to start wearing it all day in public. You can build up your comfort level by wearing a face covering for longer and longer periods of time over several days or a few weeks.
It is important to keep your face covering clean. If you don't, you can cause skin irritation or even get sick from bacteria or mold that can grow on a dirty face covering. To keep your reusable cloth face coverings clean, you SHOULD:
Never apply chemical disinfectants (like bleach, alcohol, disinfectant wipes) to a face covering, because chemical residue can cause skin and respiratory irritation when the face covering is put back on.
If your face covering uses a filter that is
inserted into a filter pocket, replace the filters periodically and when they get
wet, dirty, or produce a noticeable odor.
Disposable masks should be discarded when dirty
or wet. Even if not visibly dirty, you should discard disposable masks at the end of each day when worn. They may be placed in regular
More information about face coverings is available from these sources:
Keeping your hands clean is one of the
most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to
others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap
and clean, running water. Regularly washing
hands with soap and water not only keeps you healthy, but prevents the spread
of illness to others.
Germs can spread from other people
or surfaces when you:
The best way to keep our hands clean is to regularly wash them with soap and water. Handwashing with soap and clean water physically removes germs and other contaminants. Effective handwashing can be done using any hand soap and clean water. Antibacterial soap is not needed and hot water is not needed (warm and cold water work too).
When you do not have easy access to soap and clean water, you can use an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer kills germs, but does not
remove contaminants, like chemicals, dirt, and grease. As a result, hand sanitizer should not be used instead of handwashing with soap and water whenever your hands need to have potentially harmful contaminants removed. Wash your hands with soap and water instead of using hand sanitizer:
When washing your hands, you can use any hand
soap with clean water. Antibacterial
soap is not needed, and any temperature water is okay. To wash your hands:
In order to effectively kill germs, use an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. MCPS will have ample supplies available
throughout offices and schools.
You should clean your hands whenever necessary to protect yourself from hazardous substances, including:
*Wash hands with soap and water, do not use hand sanitizer.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is
flammable, so it is important to use and store it safely. Always keep hand sanitizer away from heat, sparks, and
flames. Allow your hands to completely
dry after applying hand sanitizer if you are going to work with heat, flames,
static electricity, or sparks. And be careful not to spill hand sanitizer on your
clothes or any equipment.
MCPS schools and facilities must ensure hand sanitizer is
not misused and must also comply with fire safety requirements. These requirements include:
Keep hand sanitizer in the manufacturers’ containers. Do not transfer it to unlabeled bottles or other containers because people might not know what it is and some containers, which are not designed to hold hand sanitizer, can leak. For your safety and to ensure effectiveness, do not try to make your own hand sanitizer and never mix different hand sanitizers together. This can result in a mixture that does not kill germs effectively or is hazardous.
Supervise young children when they use hand
Some hand sanitizers have been recalled for being
contaminated with methanol, also known as wood alcohol, a toxic chemical that
can cause harm when absorbed through the skin or swallowed. In some cases, swallowing methanol-contaminated hand sanitizer can cause blindness or death.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled a list of hand sanitizers that have been recalled for methanol contamination. You can check if your hand sanitizer is on FDA’s recall list: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-consumers-should-not-use. If you do have a hand sanitizer product that is on the FDA recall list, you should stop using it immediately. Discard it or return it to the seller. All hand sanitizers supplied by MCPS have been checked against this list, and recalled products are not purchased.
Skin dryness and irritation
To prevent hand dryness or skin cracking,
apply moisturizer or hand lotion throughout the day. You can also try washing your hands with cool or
warm water instead of hot. Consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns.
More information about hand hygiene is available from these sources:
The CDC advises
that minimizing close face-to-face contact with others is the best way to
reduce the spread of COVID-19. For the
purposes of contact tracing, close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of
an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or longer during a 24-hour
period. Examples of close contact:
According to the CDC, being
within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour
period means you were in close contact regardless of whether or not you and the
other person wore a face covering. No face covering can ensure 100% protection from respiratory droplets that might contain the COVID-19 virus.
Physical distancing, also called “social
distancing,” is the practice of staying at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ lengths)
away from other people. By consistently
practicing physical distancing in public, you will reduce the possibility that
you will become sick from contagious diseases, like the flu, colds, and
To practice physical distancing,
stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) apart from other people who are not
from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces. If members of your household are sick or have
tested positive for COVID-19, you should try to stay 6 feet apart from them
also, if possible.
To protect yourself from the
COVID-19 virus, you should practice physical distancing along with:
Remember, wearing a face covering
or mask is not a replacement for physical distancing. Even if everyone wears a face covering, you still
need to stay 6 feet apart to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19.
By consistently practicing
physical distancing in public, you will reduce the possibility that you will
become sick or spread contagious diseases, like the flu, colds, and COVID-19.
We all release small
respiratory droplets whenever we talk, sing, yell, cough, or sneeze. According
to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads mainly when an infected person releases virus-containing
respiratory droplets which land in, or are inhaled into, the noses and mouths
of people nearby. By staying at least 6 feet apart and wearing masks, we can dramatically
reduce everyone’s exposure to these respiratory droplets. This is especially
important because the virus can be spread by infected people who may not know
they are infected because they do not have any serious symptoms.
If you are sick or have been
in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should
stay at home and contact your supervisor.
Close contact is defined as being within 6-feet of an infected person for
15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period regardless if face coverings were
worn or not.
Please note, even if you receive the COVID vaccine, the CDC currently advises that you
should continue the practice of mask wearing, hand washing, and physical
As MCPS reopens schools and buildings, classrooms and other work spaces are being transformed to foster physical distancing. With preparation and creative thinking, most work tasks can be performed while
practicing physical distancing. Depending
on the task, this might require modifications to the workplace or changes in
work practices. Signs and floor markings
can also be used to continuously remind everyone to practice physical
distancing when at MCPS facilities.
It is a challenge to maintain physical distancing, but we must gently remind ourselves, our co-workers, and our students to keep at least 6 feet apart. If others are too close to
you, take a few steps back and gently remind them that we must adhere to
physical distancing, even when masks are worn. Remember, wearing a face
covering or mask is not a replacement for physical distancing.
When evaluating a task for which you believe physical distancing is not
possible, or might be challenging, ask yourself these questions:
Examples of how tasks can be
performed by MCPS employees with physical distancing:
closer than 6 feet from others for very brief periods of time, like walking
past people in a hallway or restroom, is not believed to increase the risk of
getting infected. There might be times, however, when you need to be close to
others for an extended period of time, such as when:
To protect employees engaged
in activities like these, MCPS has developed procedures involving specialized
training, personal protective equipment, modified
work practices, and hiring trained and equipped contractors.
When rearranging and
relocating furniture, workstations, materials, and equipment to support physical
distancing, it is important not to create new hazards, by:
If your facility designates
one-way halls or stairways, all students, staff, and visitors must be aware
that people should travel in any direction necessary during an emergency
evacuation to ensure everyone can exit the building in a rapid and orderly
manner. This should be stressed during emergency drills.