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LCPS affirms updated state mask guidance

Athletes must be masked, visitors must keep them on, certain types prohibited


Las Cruces Public Schools is reviewing updated COVID-19 guidance released Tuesday by the New Mexico Public Education Department. The new requirements, which the district will immediately comply with, include masks to be worn by all athletes indoors and outdoors. There is also new face mask criteria and a provision that visitors wear a mask at all times during indoor school-sponsored events, like board meetings.  

Previous guidance allowed for masks to be removed temporarily while speaking at a podium, provided a safe social distance was observed. Masks were also optional for athletes in outdoor sports, such as football, soccer and golf. It is unclear what the new requirements mean for spectators at outdoor events.  

According to the governor’s office, they will once again use the color-coded designation of counties to determine when mask requirements could be relaxed. Tuesday, Doña Ana County was designated red, meaning the COVID-19 virus was at a high risk of transmission.  

Updated face mask criteria include requirements that masks must cover the mouth and nose and fit snugly against the sides of the face in order to contain respiratory droplets. The types of allowable face masks include:  

    • Face masks made of two or more layers of cloth 
    • Face mask with a clear plastic window 
    • Surgical, procedural, N95 or KN95 face masks that are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by staff performing medical duties or similar close contact assignments. 

The following face coverings are not substitutes for face masks: 

    • Masks that have exhalation valves or vents 
    • Bandanas 
    • Scarves  
    • Neck gaiters (also known as neck fleece)  
    • Face shields  

According to the updated NMPED Toolkit, which can be found here, the CDC does not recommend certain types of face coverings, like those with vents or valves, because they allow respiratory droplets to be expelled. Additionally, the CDC does not recognize face shields as an effective barrier against virus transmission, and that different types of materials used in scarves and bandanas are significantly less effective than an allowable face mask.  

Visitors to any LCPS building will be expected to comply with mask guidance, and masks will be provided to anyone who does not have one.