Washington school told students to wear masks while chewing food

Students at a Washington state school had been told they had to wear masks at all times — even while chewing their food during lunch.

The bizarre COVID-19 protocols at the Geiger Montessori School in Tacoma, just outside Seattle, said students had to wear masks in the cafeteria and could lower them “only to take a bite or drink.”

Principal Neil O’Brien spoke of the measures at a Parent Teacher Student Association meeting as recently as Sept. 14, according to the meeting’s minutes.  

“We all wear masks, even in cafeteria. Geiger practices spreading children out during meals, lowering only to take a bite or drink and then raising it again,” O’Brien said.

“Geiger is fortunate to have excellent mechanical air flow systems. Children are taught to stay 3 ft apart.”

An outraged parent, only referred to as Michael, told KTTH radio that the principal also emailed the mask guidance to parents.

After flagging his concerns, Michael said an administrator at Tacoma Public Schools falsely claimed the protocol was based on science and CDC guidance for schools.

Neil O'Brien
An outraged parent said that Principal Neil O’Brien also emailed the mask guidance to parents.
Tacoma Public Schools/Facebook

A spokesperson for the school district has since walked back the policy.

“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 radio station.

“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.

“This is not the guidance being used at other schools.”