Discussion continues on effectiveness of face shields
In school districts where masks are required, the search is on for an effective alternative. Some point to face shields as a solution for some students who simply can’t or won’t wear a face mask. (Source: KSLA)
By Jeff Ferrell
July 17, 2020 at 10:04 PM CDT
– Updated July 23 at 9:46 AM
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – In school districts where masks are required, the search is on for an effective alternative.
Some point to face shields as a solution for some students who simply can’t or won’t wear a face mask.
The CDC says face shields – by themselves – are not an effective replacement.
However, in some cases, final decisions about face coverings are being made on state and district levels.
The effectiveness issue can often vary depending on who and where you ask.
For example, the Texas Education Agency, better known as the T.E.A. has said face shields are an okay alternative to face masks.
In Bossier and Caddo Parish School Districts, the answer is generally no, with exceptions allowed on a case-by-case basis.
Both of those school districts cite the state’s policy that a shield cannot replace a mask.
Other school districts including MISD, The Marshall andTexas Independent School District told us the district will not be announcing any policies until their overall reopening plan is unveiled next week.
Meanwhile, the face shield policy in Texarkana, Texas closely mirrors those of Caddo and Bossier Parishes.
In Texarkana, Arkansas face masks are not mandatory, meaning an alternative is not required.
With the T.E.A. giving face shields at least marginal support as an alternative to face masks, Dr. Alison Haddock, with Baylor College of Medicine, offered some advice.
“I think face shields are a good alternative to masks in a situation and for people for whom masks might be a bit of a challenge,” Haddock began. “Especially for people who may have hearing difficulties and need to see faces and facial expressions, face shields can be a good option if other people are having sensory issues.”
Some educational leaders explained that some special needs students are also among those who cannot wear a mask.
Another issue is the fact that not all face shields are considered as safe as face masks.
Dr. Haddock says not all face shields can provide maximum coverage and must meet certain guidelines.
“So that means it needs to go back to your ear and it needs to go down past your chin. It needs to start up fairly well above your eyes. A smaller face shield is going to be less protective against droplets,” said Haddock.
In Red River Parish, superintendent Alison Hughes said they have turned to guidance on the state and federal levels about mask alternatives, like a properly adjusted face shield.
“Where maybe it’s not so restrictive around the nose and mouth area which will allow more air to come in,” said Hughes.
If a face shield is not an option for some of the students who cannot wear a mask, that is when virtual instruction can play a critical role.
Lisa Thompson, a 6th grade English and Language Arts teacher at Benton Intermediate School, was among the teachers who served as advisors last week for the Bossier Parish School District, helping to finalize their reopening plans.
Thompson explained that sometimes even face shields are not an option for some students. That’s when virtual online instruction can come into play.
“We’ve had children, that because of specific health reasons, that it was a better fit,” said Thompson.
Then there are some kids who just don’t like the masks.
Red River Parish parent, Cindy Lazarus, has three children soon returning to the school system in Coushatta.
“Mine don’t want to go back to school to wear a mask,” said Lazarus.
Lazarua explained her kids have to go to classes in-person or they can’t play sports.
While there are varying concerns about face masks, face shields and virtual online learning, Lazarus is one parent who said she feels confident schools will do all they can to protect the health and safety of all students.
“I work at the hospital. So, I feel that’s, they’re more at risk with me working there then going back to school,” said Lazarus.
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