Governor issues new masks order for schools: No clear shields without masks

Photo illustration of face shields. | Photo by Boyloso, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Gov. Gary Herbert has issued a new mask order for schools, stating that clear face shields can only be worn with an additional face covering in indoor areas and on school buses.

Photo illustration of a student wearing a protective mask with a face shield on campus. | Photo by
ajr_images, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

The order, issued late Friday and effective now through the end of 2020, follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says clear face shields alone without a mask are not a proven deterrent for the spread of the coronavirus.

Schools in Washington County returned to in-person classes Wednesday. Per the order, when students return from the weekend break, they, along with teachers, staff and visitors, will be required to wear a mask as well if they are wearing a clear face shield. The same goes for Beaver, Kane and Garfield county schools that return next week and Iron County schools when they resume on Aug. 25.

The only exemption in which a student, teacher or staff member can wear a face shield only, according to the order, would be those “engaged in an activity where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication, including an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing while communicating with others, an individual who is communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing or a teachers-student dyad participating in speech therapy.”

Face shields are clear, usually plastic, face coverings. Along with the CDC, other medical experts have questioned the effectiveness of clear face shields against the coronavirus because they usually don’t wrap around the face, allowing droplets containing the virus to both escape the user and allow droplets in to be inhaled.

Herbert addressed face shields during his press conference on Thursday.

“A shield alone is not preferable. Face shields should always be worn with face masks,” Herbert said. “Exemptions being those with disabilities and the hard of hearing.”

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

We invite you to check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of August 13, 2020, seven-day average in parentheses)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 3,264 (17.3 new infections per day in seven days, falling)

  • Washington County: 2,552 (13.9 per day, falling)
  • Iron County: 572 (3.1 per day, steady)
  • Kane County: 60 (0.1 per day, rising)
  • Garfield County: 49 (0 per day, steady) 
  • Beaver County: 31 (0.1 per day, falling) 

Deaths: 26 (0.1 per day, steady)

  • Washington County: 21
  • Iron County: 2
  • Garfield County: 2
  • Kane County: 1

Hospitalized: 5 (steady)

Recovered: 2,764

Current Utah seven-day average (Governor’s goal of less than 400 by Sept. 1 ): 369 (rising)

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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