A Washington state elementary school now requires students to eat and drink while wearing masks during lunch in the cafeteria, an alleged safety precaution that school officials believe will help prevent the spread coronavirus.
Principal Neil O'Brien of Geiger Montessori School in Tacoma, Washington sent an email to parents regarding the updated COVID-19 policies which state that children must keep their masks on while chewing and swallowing despite social distancing and "fantastic" airflow.
"Yes. Children should wear masks during lunch. They can lower it to take a bite or a drink, and raise it to chew, swallow, or talk. Our cafeteria has a fantastic airflow system and children are spaced apart AND when over a hundred of them are in one large room (the cafeteria and gym combined) we need to treat lunchtime as a dangerous time for all. Children need to continue to wear their masks during lunch," O'Brien said in an email obtained by conservative talk radio host Jason Rantz.
Michael, a parent of a student attending Geiger, became "irate" after learning of the new policies and alleged that the principal won't respond to messages or return phone calls. However, the Tacoma Public School District admitted the policy was excessive after days of deliberation and initial support.
"The standard originally set at Geiger was established in good faith as an interpretation of health department guidance to wear masks when 'actively eating,'" the spokesperson told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
"In checking with the health department, that standard goes beyond their intent. We won't discipline any students for not wearing their masks between bites. And this is not the guidance being used at other schools."
Despite the school district insisting students will not be punished for chewing and swallowing while their mask is lowered, it's unclear if the principal at Geiger will attempt to enforce the school's requirements.