Teaching and Learning with a Mask

This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on Fall 2021 guidance.
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Advice for teaching and learning in a classroom while wearing a mask

For Fall 2021, campus has implemented a masking mandate to reduce the risks of spreading the COVID-19 virus. This masking requirement includes campus classroom spaces. This document provides guidance and suggestions for dealing with the anticipated challenges of teaching and learning in a classroom while wearing a mask.

  1. Whenever possible, speak into a microphone.
    All classrooms that are large enough to normally require a microphone already have a microphone system with a communal clip-on pickup element. Further information about the availability of additional clip-on or headset microphone elements will be coming soon. For more information on the use of microphones in the classroom, read the Classroom Amplification Solutionsdocument. View the instructions below to assist with the use of the microphones and the portable systems:
  2. Use a wireless microphone for students.
    If available, use a wireless microphone for students to comment and ask questions so others can hear.
  3. Have spare masks available.
    Even the best-intentioned person may forget or lose their mask. Have extra masks available in case someone is in need of one.
  4. Prevent foggy glasses.
    Wearing glasses can make wearing a mask difficult, causing glasses to become foggy. If you can, get a mask large enough to go higher on you nose, then place the glasses on top of the mask. Consider using anti-fogging glass cleaner. Masks with a metal nose bridge may also create a better seal than those without a bridge.
  5. Develop ways of reading facial expressions.
    1. Read the eyes. Even though you are not able to see full facial expressions of those wearing masks, increase your focus on eyes and eyebrows. Talk to students about how you are reading their faces so they are aware of their expressions. If they are thinking hard about something, for example, they may naturally furrow their eyebrows. Let them know that you might read that as anger or frustration because you are only seeing a portion of their face.
    2. Control the tone of your voice.  Wearing a mask makes it harder to be heard clearly. Soft-spoken people may need to use a louder voice than normal. Encourage students to ask questions ask for repetition of questions or comments if they are having problems hearing. 
    3. Develop other body language.
      With reduced view of facial expressions, be aware of other body language to communicate feelings. 
  6. Create space for questions.
    Pause the class more frequently than normal to ask for affirmation that students can hear, need something repeated, or to facilitate questions.
  7. Illustrate concepts on the screen.
    Whether it is in a PowerPoint slide or whiteboard, add other visual representations of concepts to supplement the auditory element of presentations in class.