New Fact Sheet on Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the School Setting
Federal partners have created a variety of resources and tools to help organizations, including schools and school districts, understand mitigation strategies they can consider implementing to protect students, staff, faculty, and visitors from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Providing face masks and PPE is one important workplace control, as noted in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, that can be used to protect the whole school community.
Requirements for the types of PPE to be used in the school and campus setting may vary by state. However, it is important for education agency leaders to sit down with safety planning teams and partners to think through which of their school community’s staff and faculty (e.g., teachers, aides, school nurses, bus drivers) have the highest frequency of contact with students and which personnel (e.g., administrators and office staff) may have the highest frequency of contact with families, visitors, and other school personnel.
The REMS TA Center is pleased to announce the release of a new fact sheet that offers six implementation tips to support the use of face masks and PPE in the K-12 learning setting.
Implementation Tips for Masks and PPE At a Glance
- Design mask and PPE usage requirements based on role.
- Confirm state requirements and recommendations.
- Create virtual and in-person trainings on how to properly use masks and PPE gear.
- Develop a mask and PPE self-inspection checklist.
- Review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s PPE Burn Rate Calculator.
- Ask local, state, and regional partners for support.
Addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting the civil rights of students is of utmost importance for school leaders as they help ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when creating protocols for the whole school community.
Whole school community use of masks and PPE as a safety and security protocol is a new concept that school districts across the country are learning how to effectively implement. It will require continued training, school and classroom supports, and messaging that will help ensure that all members of the school community understand proper use of protocols around masks and PPE in the school setting.
Education agencies cannot do this work alone. Local, state, and regional emergency management agencies are key partners in helping school districts determine whether any additional state requirements or recommendations have been shared specifically for schools and/or other public agencies. State and local departments of labor, workplace safety, and/or health may also be key sources of informational support. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers a PPE self-inspection checklist that schools can use or mirror as they conduct site assessments and do inventories throughout the year.
REMS TA Center Resource Snapshot
The REMS TA Center offers a variety of resources such as the REMS TA Center’s State Map of Emergency Management Resources to access contact information for state emergency management partners. We also recommend that when education agencies conduct site assessments, they first download and use the REMS TA Center’s SITE ASSESS mobile app, which equips practitioners with information and knowledge about fundamental site assessment topics, allows users to add locality- and state-specific questions (including details specific to masks and PPE), and exports site assessment data for data aggregation/analysis and recordkeeping.