Elementary schools still giving mask breaks as the temperature drops


Photo via WTOP

Madeline Miller, Staff Writer

In FCPS, elementary school students are given an outdoor mask break, but is it getting too cold to do this?  

Since schools have gone back in person, FCPS has decided to allow only elementary schoolers to have one routine mask break a day. During this break, the students go outside where they are able to take off their masks for about ten minutes. This is in addition to their lunch and recess times, where they are also allowed to remove their masks.

On January 11, 2022, The Fairfax County Parents Association (FCPA) tweeted a video of third grade students outside during  a mask break. “Video of the elementary school kids sitting in 24 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, below freezing) at @waynewoodes today.  “This is Virginia, where kids don’t routinely wear down and wool,” said the caption to the video that was tweeted. This video concerned some parents who also have children that are taking mask breaks in these cold temperatures. 

Fairfax County responded to the concern by ensuring that the weather was being considered. They also mentioned that the students in the video were only outside for seven minutes, implying that this would not be long enough for the students to become dangerously cold. 

Although FCPS explained why there should be less concern, parents are still wondering whether mask breaks should be continued through the winter. Young children have a hard time keeping a mask on all day, having very little knowledge of why they’re wearing it. Giving them certain times a day to remove a mask can help encourage them to keep it on while inside. However, as it gets colder, students who don’t have the proper winter gear, or have other causes that make them susceptible to the cold, could be put at risk by spending more time outside. 

The difference in opinions has caused FCPS to not be able to find a great solution to either problem. Thus, they will continue to give outdoor mask breaks to the elementary students in the county, as long as they deem the weather conditions to be safe, something that is seen as subjective.