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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Cloth Face Masks in Schools

The Administration is working to support safe school reopening for students, teachers, and staff. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be providing up to 125 million cloth masks to states for distribution to schools. The Administration intends for these masks to support students, teachers, and staff in public and private schools reopening, with an emphasis on students who are low-income or otherwise with high needs and schools providing in-person instruction.

Schools are an essential part of the infrastructure of communities, as they empower children with the knowledge and skills needed for a fulfilling future, provide safe supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to go to work. Schools also provide critical services that help to mitigate health disparities, such as school meal programs, social and behavioral development opportunities, physical activity, and mental health services. Communities should make every effort to support the reopening of schools safely for in person learning in the fall.

Learn about federal guidance on reopening schools safely

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidance that suggest students should wear face masks during in-person schooling as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when students wearing masks cough, sneeze, talk or raise their voices. By providing these face masks for students, teachers, and staff, the U.S. government can help make sure that obtaining a face mask is not a barrier to receiving an education.

Distribute face masks to students, teachers, and staff

Adult-sized and youth-sized cloth face masks are being distributed to state departments of health for distribution to schools throughout their states. Each package contains five reusable and washable cloth face masks. When your school receives your masks, distribute them to students, teachers, and staff to prevent the spread of COVID-19. HHS will distribute these face masks between early September 2020 through the end of November 2020.

Teach students, teachers, and staff to protect themselves and others

In addition to wearing a mask, encourage Students, teachers, and staff to take everyday preventive actions to protect themselves and others from getting sick with COVID-19.

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol; cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or inside of elbow, throwing the tissue away, and then washing hands.

  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and cloth face mask unnecessarily.

  • Maintaining distance of at least 6 feet from other people, especially indoors.

  • Wearing a cloth face mask especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

  • Staying home when sick or after being in close contact with a person with COVID-19.

  • Limiting use of shared objects (for example, gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, games) when possible, and cleaning and disinfecting these objects frequently.

To learn more, check out information from the CDC to help prepare for a safe return to school and operate school during COVID-19.


  • This page last reviewed: October 07, 2020