The school year is finally in full swing, and it’s accurate to say that schools are stepping up their cleaning and sanitation schedules. With the public’s surge in interest for public health and safety, schools need a solution to stop children from spreading sickness between one another. Sneeze guards are an effective protection method that many schools are starting to employ, especially during cold and flu seasons.
Using Sneeze Guards in Schools
Although they might seem like an innovative idea brought to light because of the 2020 pandemic, sneeze guards have actually been around for years and are especially useful in a school setting. You might think back to the elementary school days when you ordered a hot lunch over a plexiglass panel from your favorite cafeteria worker. Otherwise, you’ve definitely encountered sneeze guards for grocery stores or buffet restaurants. Now, thanks to the current uptick in public health concerns, sneeze guards are needed outside of the lunchroom in classrooms and other essential areas instead.
How Can Sneeze Guards Help?
Grade schools are often a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, and other infectious agents. Preventing the spread of illnesses in schools is challenging, but sneeze guards can certainly help. We know there are various illnesses that pass from person to person through respiratory droplets in the air and potentially through human touch. Sneeze guards are now necessary for areas besides the cafeteria to block big breakouts of the virus in schools.
Instead of using them to stop children’s sticky fingers from reaching across the lunch line, school administrators can implement sneeze guards in classrooms and other locations as an added safety feature in conjunction with other protective measures. Sneeze guards are useful for:
- Intercepting infected respiratory droplets in the air
- Minimizing virus transmission
- Reinforcing social distancing requirements in smaller spaces
- Limiting contact between students, teachers, and administrators
- Complimenting other essential safety measures like masks and gloves
Although they’re not an entirely perfect or permanent solution on their own, sneeze guards work exceptionally well when paired with other protective measures like masks, gloves, face shields, and social distancing. Schools that utilize the plexiglass barriers provide at least some semblance of added protection for their students and faculty.
Federal Recommendations for Sneeze Guards in Schools
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OSHA have each presented their own safety guidelines for going back to school. Both entities recommend installing physical partitions like plexiglass sneeze guards in areas of the school where six feet of social distancing is difficult to maintain. There are various locations within a learning institution where sneeze guards are advantageous, including:
- Reception areas
- Security desks
- Administrative offices
- Nurses offices
- Teachers’ desks
- Student work areas
- Computer labs
All of these locations commonly accommodate larger amounts of people in a limited space. Placing sneeze guards throughout a school can stop students, teachers, and administrators from spreading the virus to one another. This helps slow the spread of the virus and blocks transmission to high-risk family members, friends, and neighbors when everyone goes home for the night.
Materials and Measurements
It’s crucial that schools shop for the right style of sneeze guards. Size, shape, and materials all make a difference in the effectiveness of this solution in schools. Most often, sneeze guards are made up of plexiglass, otherwise known as acrylic, which is an impenetrable and shatter-proof material. The transparent barriers must be tall enough to provide protection against traveling respiratory droplets and other infectious airborne agents between students and faculty.
Administrators should also take note of how students and teachers interact throughout the day. While a shorter sneeze guard style specifically designed to divide desks might work well for a seated student, there are times when a taller transparent partition is required. Schools should utilize mobile safety barriers to block off areas where standing or walking is expected, like in an administrative office or security desk. With the right sneeze guards in place, students can continue to learn in a safe, secure environment.
Learning Without Limits
It’s challenging to corral children and enforce effective safety protocols in schools, even without a pandemic. Ensuring that students wear masks correctly and adequate social distancing is maintained will be a difficult task for teachers throughout this trying school year. The distractions will undoubtedly stack up as students make their way back into the classroom. Creating a safe space where students can still collaborate and obtain information from teachers is crucial to a successful school year.
Luckily, sneeze guards are simple to set up and easy for everyone to use. The transparent barriers make it so students can still talk and learn with each other while staying socially distant and safe from potential carriers of sickness like the flu.
There are so many unique sneeze guard designs to install throughout various areas for an added layer of protection from infectious airborne particles. They’re an excellent addition to a teacher’s desk, a location in classrooms where children are known to linger and leave behind icky, sticky germs. Many manufacturers also sell sneeze guards specifically for students with a tri-fold design to fit perfectly on a smaller desk. For tables where teamwork typically takes place, utilize a four-way desk divider to keep the appropriate amount of space between students.
Keeping Schools Safe During Cold and Flu Season
Whether it’s in-person learning or a hybridization of the learning environment, children deserve to feel safe and secure as they take in the necessary materials and information to lead them to a successful future. Any schools that are even considering opening classrooms back up must install sneeze guards and enforce rigid safety regulations so students can continue to learn without any more interruptions.
Everyone is yearning for even a smidgen of a typical schedule. Sending kids back to school can give their lives a sense of normalcy during so much uncertainty. Although many parents have concerns about the rules and regulations surrounding the reopening of schools, various solutions can still help keep children protected from sickness during cold and flu seasons. Using sneeze guards for schools is an excellent first step in fostering a healthy, safe environment for continued learning.