F2F Teaching: Is One Mask Enough?

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Like many people in the gig economy, I do most of my work online. I sit at home in front of my computer screen where I can interact with students and others without having to wear a mask. I just wear one when I make my quick runs to a store.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to do a two-hour workshop face-to-face, which meant that, for the first time, I had to wear a mask for an extended period of time. Altogether I had it on for about 2.5 hours. Although I didn’t talk for that entire time, I did talk more than I normally do with a mask on.

It had not dawned on me that my cloth mask would get wet from my respiration. I realized, then, that if I were working face-to-face for several hours as most people do, I’d need to have several masks on hand to change as needed.

One of my jobs is teaching an online class to people who want to teach abroad. In a discussion board, they were asked to talk about some challenging learning environments. Several students were  concerned about having to work in a climate that was hot, and one student brought up the added challenge of wearing a mask in such conditions. I was able to weigh in with my recent experience. The students agreed that having more than one mask with them when they arrive at their teaching assignment was a worthwhile idea.

What has your experience been? What advice would you offer to anyone who has a wear a mask for a period of time?

2 Responses

  1. Masks provide protection for you (very limited because you can inhale **around** the mask) and for others (good because the mask blocks aerosols you spray when talking).

    It is the latter that is most important. A damp mask (not soaking wet) may actually improve this protection, but I cannot be certain about this. It seems to me that dampness will more likely capture the aerosol spraying from your lips when you talk.

    The COVID-19 virus will not remain viable on a mask for long after it dries out. I have not read about its viability on damp cloth. In simple terms, it should self-sterlize overnight if it dries out. In a humid climate, you might put it in a clothes drier to dry it completely.

  2. Lynn, apologies for the long delay in publishing this timely piece. I’ve posted a long excuse in the discussion attached to Harry’s article, which was also published this morning. In short, most of my spare time has been taken up with two projects: a condo upgrade and a problem-prone bike.

    At work, the number of freshmen increased dramatically this fall (COVID-19 effect), so I’ve been assigned five freshman comp classes. The workload is staggering, but I’m learning to cope.

    All of my classes are online and all our meetings are online, so no face mask problems. However, I walk for exercise and just to take a break from the computer, and my paper masks end up moist from the breathing and sweat.

    As Harry suggests, I hang them up to dry in the sun and wind. But after three or more uses, they begin to smell. About once a week, I gather the used masks, boil them in hot water, and hang them up to dry. This way, I can get a few more uses out of them.

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