• Why Snug, Multi-Layered Masks Limit the Spread of COVID-19

    Español| Tiếng Việt| 中文| Soomaali| Русский
     Oregon Health Authority flyer

    Dear PPS Community,

    While the best protection we have against COVID-19 continues to be vaccines plus booster shots, we know that when used correctly, face masks create an important barrier that reduces the spray of a person’s respiratory droplets, which can spread the virus that causes COVID-19. Because the Omicron variant spreads more easily than the Delta variant, wearing a well-fitting mask is more important than ever to slow the spread of COVID-19. To limit the spread of the Omicron variant, PPS continues to require individuals to wear masks at all times while on school campuses (indoor and outdoor) and on school buses, except when they eat lunch or have a drink.

    Below are some tips from public health experts on proper use of masks:

    1. Masks should cover both the nose and mouth: Masks must be worn over the mouth and nose, which are both potential habitats for viruses.
    2. Cloth masks should have multiple layers of fabric: A cloth mask may be worn over a disposable mask. This adds a layer and improves the poor fit of disposable masks. Do not layer two disposable masks.
      • A high-filtration efficiency mask with a tight fit to the face is another option. These include N95,
        KN95, and KF94 respirators.
      • Do not wear masks with ventilation valves. These ventilation valves allow particles and droplets to escape into the air.
    3. Masks must fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face: Choose a mask that fits snugly against your face and is secure under your chin. A mask that has gaps around your nose or along your cheeks allows air to freely leave or enter. Masks with nose wires can improve the fit and ensure most air and breath is being filtered through the mask.
    4. Masks must allow for unrestricted breathing: A cloth mask with multiple layers of washable, breathable, tightly woven fabric blocks more droplets than a cloth mask with only one layer of fabric. A study by the University of Illinois found the first layer reduces the speed of the droplets that escape, thereby allowing the second layer to trap and block most of the remaining droplets, as much as 94 percent total. Some masks have space for an additional layer of fabric to be inserted.

    If you are interested in learning more about how to select, properly wear, clean and store your masks, here are links to a few trusted resources:

    In addition to personal protective equipment we ask every individual to wear, we’ve upgraded existing air filters in each of our schools' mechanical systems to MERV 13 standards. This higher level of filtration provides another layer of protection to fight against COVID transmission. And as part of the PPS multi-layer approach to protecting against COVID transmission, the District has distributed portable air purifiers into classrooms and many other areas in all District buildings.  The portable air purifiers provide HEPA level air filtration, which is capable of removing 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns.  This is the standard filtration used to capture virus aerosols. 

    We continue to urge all members of our community who are eligible to please get vaccinated and boosted against the virus. We encourage you to talk to your children about proper and effective mask wearing on school campuses. Thank you for your patience and understanding and for doing your part to keep our community safe.

    Portland Public Schools