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The Quest for the Perfect Mask: Three Steps to the Back-to-School Mask

Thea Dodds
We are used to buying our kids back-to-school clothes, notebooks, folders, and organizers, but masks, this is new.  The good news is masks are recommended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and most schools and businesses in New Hampshire are now requiring them.  At Holderness, we will provide two masks per student and are recommending you purchase additional face coverings for your use. Ideally, students should start each day with a clean mask, so your student may need 3-7 masks depending on how frequently they can be cleaned. We are recommending masks with a tight weave, three-ply, fitted made from natural fibers (cotton, bamboo, wool) with a nose clip. 
So let’s find your family the perfect back-to-school masks.

Step One: Define your perfect mask. Perfect for one family may not be perfect for yours. So start by identifying your priorities. Comfort, breathability, effectiveness are all achieved through different materials and design features and you may need to trade on one priority to gain on another. But don’t worry, the most important feature is wearing the mask, so any mask that gets worn is a good mask!

Step Two: Identify three key design features you want in your masks. You likely want different masks for different purposes. You probably want masks for the classroom and different masks for sports. In either case, you’ll need to consider a few key design features.
  • Fabrics - Tightly woven fabrics (like cotton) that seal close to your face are better at filtering while synthetics are more breathable.
  • Layers - More layers is more protection, but you do need to be able to breathe through them. Two-to-three layers seem to be ideal to balance protection and breathing.
  • Cut - It is key that a mask fits snugly to your face creating a seal keeping your air droplets to yourself. Masks that contour to your face, seal better, don’t move while you are talking, and are more comfortable.
  • Size - Yes, they come in sizes. Read the sizing charts. Measure your face and order accordingly.
  • Replaceable filter - Some masks feature a slot to insert a disposable filter which seems great as long as you remember to change it.
  • Nose clips - These help seal the mask to your face and keep those glasses from fogging up, so they are a good idea in most cases.
  • Ear or head loop - Spending long periods of time in masks with ear loops can cause chaffing. If you have a mask with ear loops have no fear as there are many DIY ways to relieve that pressure on the ears.
  • Water resistant and moisture wicking - When it comes to a sports mask this is going to be a key feature.
  • Window - For foreign language class it may be helpful to have a mask where your mouth movements and facial expressions are visible.
Step Three: Assemble your description and start your search. Here are a few masks that might work for your student in the classroom and your athlete on the field.

  • Hanes Wicking Cotton Masks - Three layers of cotton, reusable for twenty washes. One size. $25/10-pack.
  • Vida Mask - Two layers of 100% cotton, easily adapts to different sizes with adjustable straps and features a hidden, integrated metal nose-piece to ensure a snug fit. Comes with a carbon activated filter that should be replaced every 7 days. One size. $10.
  • Zensah Performance Face Masks - Engineered to be antibacterial, odor-free, moisture-wicking, quick drying, and ultra comfortable. Good for light to mild running. One size. $16.
  • SpaceMask - 3-Layer construction with a built-in antibacterial filter. Two sizes. $19.
  • Onzie Mindful Mask - Multi-layer fabric made of Spandex that is stretchy, comfort fitting, quick-drying and breathable. One size. $24
  • Kitsbow Face Mask - Breathable filter pocket for low threat / high exertion you can choose to leave the filter out. Three sizes. $24.95
  • Anti-fog Clear Mask - 100% multi layered cotton frame with a window for reading lips and expressions. Three sizes. $29
Sports Masks:
  • Reebok Face Coverings - Made with soft, breathable fabric. Two sizes. $30/3-pack.
  • Outdoor Research Face Masks - Mask design is adjustable, washable, and is treated with a technology that makes fabrics resistant to harmful microbes. Comes with a disposable filter to replace every 5-7 days. One-size. $40/3-pack
  • The Under Armor SportsMask - Made with high-performance materials, designed to be worn all day and/or when playing sports. Five sizes. $30. Shipping Sept. 4.
  • Asics Runners Face Mask - Specifically made for runners with performance, comfort, and protection at the core of the design. To be released in mid-September. £35.

Hope this helps! And thank you for wearing a mask. 


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Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness, NH 03245

MAIL P.O. Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
PHONE (603) 536-1257