LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The search is on for KN95 and N95 masks as parents try to protect their kids from COVID-19 the best they can.

Many students in central Arkansas returned to in-person learning Tuesday after almost two weeks of on-and-off virtual days due to COVID-19 cases or exposures.

Parent Whitney Abernathy said she worried that recent recommendations to have more people using the more advanced masks had her concerned as she sent her kids back to Little Rock schools.

“I was worried because all I had was the cloth masks,” she said, noting that over the last two years she has collected dozens of cloth masks for her kids.

On Tuesday, they were all tossed out.

The CDC says cloth masks are no longer effective in stopping the spread of the omicron variant.

“At this point, it’s a very good idea for people to wear a mask that also protects them from getting infected,” Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health, explained.

Dillaha said cloth masks are designed to stop a person who already has COVID-19 from spreading it to others. It doesn’t, however, protect the wearer from catching the virus.

“Cloth masks aren’t very good filters in the sense of people bringing something in,” she noted.