What is PPE?
Personal protective equipment, PPE includes all the gears and clothing that a person uses to protect him from any potential hazard when at workplace. As coronavirus holds a firm grip across the states in US the importance and relevance of PPE has travelled all the way from industries and hospitals to general workplaces such as offices and even schools. PPE must be provided by the employer to the employees. They must also be trained and educated about the use of PPE. Some PPE are very technical which require exclusive training. Hence it must be ensured that they are used in the correct way if they are to give any benefit. Here are some of the examples of PPE: –
- Face mask and respirators
- Face shields
- Safety boots
Use of PPE in schools: –
Schools across the US are gradually opening up after being shut down for more than six months. With the virus still on the loose in the US however, exceptional care must be taken to protect children as well as the staff working in schools. Many schools have considered using PPE in school to protect against the virus. All the time during which schools were closed they have been working on the strategies and methods to be taken once the schools open to ensure safety for all. Acceptance and usage of PPE is one very important measure. Schools have various groups of members in the vicinity at a given time. These include teachers, students, campus visitors, administrative and support personnel and janitorial staff. Hence, schools must lay out which type of PPE is relevant for which group of school member. As per the CDC’s recommendations, school’s nursing staff may be required to have detailed PPE including medical gowns, surgical masks, gloves and face shields. Janitorial staff that is responsible for maintaining the school’s hygiene and cleanliness might also need an elaborate PPE. However, teachers might essentially just need to cover their faces with a mask. Students will also have to cover their faces with mask in order to control the spread of virus.
PPE might not be useful at all times, places and situations. Hence it must be clearly communicated that what kind of PPE must be worn in what places. In places where social distancing is sufficiently maintained, for instance, it might not be necessary to cover faces. Likewise, during lunch time face coverings would be exempted. However, hand hygiene must be thoroughly emphasized especially before and after eating lunch.
Now that PPE has become an important part of school management affairs, a relevant PPE management and reimbursement program must be devised so as to ensure that the school does not run short of such critical supplies. Handling the PPE is also a critical job as it must be stored and used properly without being spoiled. If the equipment is torn or spoiled from any side it becomes useless. Therefore, a professional administrator must be assigned the task to manage the PPE inventory. His job would also include looking out for state or regional purchasing officers in order to benefit from a state-determined price. Buying the equipment in bulk quantities shall also help save costs.
Although use of PPE is essential during such crucial times of health emergency, face shields and masks hinder effective communication which is very important in teaching profession. The warm smile of a teacher is very reassuring especially when it comes to elementary students. Not being able to see the teacher’s face might leave children confused and upset. Therefore, measures should be thoroughly worked upon to tackle such problems. The teacher can have a cut out of a happy face as well as that of a sad face which she may wave to the children to show how she feels about a certain thing. This, for instance may allow the teacher to have uninterrupted communication in spite of face coverings.
Lastly, school administration must consider altering class room and overall school layout in order to facilitate social distancing wherever possible. This will be a very effective way to control the virus along with the use of PPE in School.