LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — They are on the hunt. Leaders at The Scranton School For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children are looking for masks with clear fronts, which are better for understanding sign language and lip reading for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“Deaf people rely on facial expressions as well as signs, especially in ASL, lip-reading, speech-reading, it reduces anxiety when you’re able to see what other people are saying, and there’s better and clearer communication when you have full access to someone’s face,” said Kevin McDonough, director of The Scranton School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.

School officials said they need the masks for faculty and staff, and unfortunately, those special masks are hard to find; they are back-ordered all over the country.

They are hoping to get some before students return in the fall.

This is something that we never really thought about. We really right now we’re trying to develop a plan for if we’re in the building, we want to be safe, if we’re online, we want to be safe for the kids, and we’re also developing a plan for like a hybrid plan also,” said school principal Dean Pettinato.

School officials said there may be another challenge to overcome: those masks with clear fronts tend to fog up, though there may be some spray to fix that issue. 

They plan to do the best they can with what they have.

“It’s just a very interesting situation and something we’ve never really pondered before, so we really are hoping to meet this challenge,” said McDonough.

“I just want to thank all of the students, the families, the parents, our staff. They just worked so hard throughout this whole thing. They’ve worked so hard. It’s been such a challenge. Something we couldn’t really prepare for, and they’ve done an awesome job,” said Pettinato.