Minimize Infection Risk at Schools and Colleges

Now that kids have returned to school in the wake of the Covid-19 era, educational institutions are bracing for another tumultuous year with the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. Teachers and students alike are grappling with vaccine mandates and distancing rules as parents are concerned for their children's health and safety. 
Health experts have some risk reduction advice to make those tough calls a little easier, and it involves the use of PPE to protect students from getting infected. PPE is designed to protect the wearer and those nearby from the spread of illness-causing germs. When PPE is used properly, it acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viral contaminants and mucus membranes on the wearer's skin, like the mouth, nose, and eyes, where infection can invade.
The protective barrier created by PPE, when used properly, has the potential to block the transmission of contaminants from blood, bodily fluids, and respiratory secretions. This article details when different types of PPE like surgical masks, reusable face shields, and disposable gowns and gloves should be used. 

Medical or Surgical Masks
The department of public health has issued a mask advisory in light of the centers for disease control and its guidance in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Fully vaccinated individuals are advised to wear a mask or face covering when indoors and not at home. This is especially important if a child has a weakened immune system or is at increased risk for severe disease because of age or an underlying medical condition. Masks also remain mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems, including rideshares, taxis, ferries, and trains. 

Most doctors agree that a cloth mask is best for kids because it is more durable and lasts throughout the school day. The mask should be a well-fitting cloth with multiple layers and a nose piece to allow for a good fit. This would work much better than a surgical mask that will lose its integrity throughout the school day.

Face shields
 A face shield is a cushioned sheet of plastic that extends from the forehead below the chin and wraps around the front of the face. It acts to deflect airborne contaminants and aerosol droplets that travel through the air with the potential of spreading Covid-19.
Look for goggles that provide a wide field of vision and is the non-vented goggle for splash protection. They should offer a comfortable fit over prescription eyewear and an elastic headband that offers an adjustable fit. Goggles should wrap around the eyes, creating a seal on all surface area they encounter. This way, the mucus membranes of the eyes are fully protected from any splash or airborne particles that may pose the threat of infection.

Safety Glasses
Wearing safety glasses will not protect you as well as goggles, but they still offer some protection. They tend to be lightweight and more comfortable for all-day use. Look for safety glasses that have a soft foam to comfortably fill the gap between your face and the lens for excellent protection, and you also want them to wrap around the sides of the face to completely shelter the mucus membranes of the eyes.

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