The CDC Recommends Double Masking by: emma robinson

Once Dexter High School required teachers to come back to school on January 28 for a new 50%, in-person hybrid model, history teacher Murphy Hansen had to make a difficult decision.

"I've had to stop seeing family members now that I'm back in school, and I'd like to protect myself and the people I live with right now who are in high-risk categories," Hansen said.

On February 10, the CDC started recommending double masking. The idea is to help masks fit tighter on your face and add some extra protection.

“Well, I trust the CDC as a government agency whose sole purpose is to collect data and make recommendations based on that data," Hansen said. "Since the CDC recommended people double up on masks, I see this recommendation as a "best practice" based on the current information and data we have available to us. I'll do what I can to protect myself and others. However, if there were some sort of change where we might have to wear more than two masks... I have to say, I'd question whether we should be physically in school at that point."

Science teacher Daniel Witte agreed that the CDC is just following the science in its recommendation.

"I am a believer that the experts are providing us with the best information that they have," Witte said. "The concept of double masks makes sense to me for certain types of masks. Different materials are going to have different abilities to separate out particles based on size of particle. By having two masks, I think that the idea is to maximize the filtration of the air that is being breathed in and out."
More than 71% of respondents to a Squall survey (Feb. 23-26) said they agree with the CDC'd double-mask recommendation.
Despite 71% of respondents saying they agreed with the CDC's double-mask recommendation, slightly more than 25% said they currently double mask.

However, Witte added the double-masking recommendation is more for those who are wearing homemade or lower-quality masks.

"The CDC has always considered a N95 mask as the best protection," Witte said. "N95 masks are also never supposed to be doubled up, so if there was ever a recommendation I would switch to a N95 mask."

Junior Lydia Browning is also on board with double masking if she has to.

“I like double masks," Browning said. "It's not bad at all except when you have to walk up stair; it gets harder to breathe. Triple masks might be too much.”

Much of the pushback against double masking is due to the idea of recommending more and more masks as time goes on. As Browning noted, triple masking would seemingly be more effective than double masking, right?

"I'd worry about the safety of in-person instruction if the CDC were to up the number of masks we'd need to wear," Hansen said. "I'd worry for several reasons. If COVID-19 is that contagious, should we really be around one another? And I'd worry my remote students who are zooming into class would no longer be able to hear or understand me with that several layers of fabric over my mouth!"

In a Squall survey, about 30% of respondents said they would consider triple masking.

Some studies have concluded wearing two masks decreases the percentage of droplets spread.