Personal protective equipment is probably something no parent imagined having to send their children with as part of their back-to-school supplies. Forced to create a budget for the safety measures, local school districts have created their own plans and protocol specifically for PPE for students and staff.
Islip Schools released separate reopening plans for each of its schools. Regard- ing PPE, all students, staff, and visitors on district property are required to wear a face covering at all times. Students and staff will have periodic mask breaks throughout the day while social distancing. Additionally, masks may be removed during physical education (12-foot dis- tancing), musical instruction (12-foot dis- tancing), and during lunch, when social distancing is possible.
The district will provide five facemasks for each employee, and disposable surgi- cal masks will be available in the case of a damaged or lost mask. PPE training will be provided to all staff. An adequate stock of disposable nitrile gloves, dispos- able latex gloves, disposable gowns, eye protection, N-95 masks, and other PPE will be maintained at each building.
All staff, visitors, and students will be required to wear face coverings while inside East Islip School District facilities and while using school district provided transportation. However, exceptions include when eating, drinking, exercising, under the supervision of a school staff official who directs the covering to be removed, as well as individuals with a health condition, a communication or impairment, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. Facemasks will be provided for individuals who are unable to provide their own.
The district will instruct students, parents/guardians, and staff on the proper way to wear face coverings, washing hands before putting on and after removing their face covering, and the proper way to discard disposable face coverings. The district will ensure that an adequate supply of masks/face coverings, face shields, gloves, and other PPE are maintained in each building for staff and student use, as needed. Additional protective equipment including face shields, gloves, and gowns will be provided, as appropriate, for settings that require close human contact, such as for staff providing certain supports for students with disabilities.
Bay Shore Schools’ reopening plan indicates that PPE is designed to protect the wearer and/or those nearby from the spread of illness-causing germs. When used properly, PPE acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viral contaminants and the wearer’s skin, mouth, nose, or eyes (mucous membranes). The barrier has the potential to block transmission of contaminants from blood, bodily fluids or respiratory secretions. PPE may include disposable masks, reusable masks, gloves, thermometers, hand sanitizer and face shields.
West Islip School District has posted signs that encourage all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to adhere to CDC and DOH guidance regarding the use of PPE, specifically acceptable face coverings, and when social distance cannot be maintained. Facemasks are required to be worn by staff and all students throughout the school day, including on buses. Mask breaks will be scheduled by teachers within the class setting throughout the day. Staff and students will be encouraged to provide their own PPE and cloth facemask, but the district will make such items available should the need arise.
-Nicole Fuentes contributed to this article.