RI medical director: Mask-wearing is an act of kindness


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Returning to the classroom this year comes with numerous changes, and the Rhode Island Department of Health has been working with schools across the state to make sure those changes are learned by students just like reading, writing and arithmetic.

Dr. James McDonald, the department’s medical director, tells 12 News that teachers and parents alike need to ensure students understand the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing.

“One of the things we need to do … is teach our kids in a loving and kind way, what new living looks like,” McDonald said.

He said wearing a mask all day long means students need to find one that’s most comfortable for them.

“I personally prefer the medical procedure mask,” he said. “It’s comfortable, it’s lightweight. I can wear it for hours, I don’t mind it. But sometimes, when I’m going on in public, I actually like wearing a cloth mask.”

McDonald said he does not recommend students use “gator-style masks” because they are too thin and do not prevent viral particles from passing through.

He also said scheduling mask-free time will go a long way toward masks being worn properly throughout the school day.

“Scheduling mask breaks makes a lot of sense,” he said. “I think if you can schedule them outside, even better. If you’re going to schedule them inside, just make sure the kids are six feet apart.”

McDonald called wearing a mask “an act of kindness” and said if everyone does their part, they will help prevent the coronavirus and other illnesses from spreading.

“The strategies we’re doing, like keeping our hands real clean with hand sanitizer, keeping our masks on to protect others from our spread … these will protect us,” he said. “The same infection prevention strategies we use to prevent COVID-19 will also prevent the flu, by the way. It will prevent the common cold.”

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