Face shields not appropriate substitute for masks in schools, ODH says

The Ohio Department of Health is warning that face shields are not an appropriate for face masks in schools for most teachers and students when in-person classes resume.

Shields do not comply with Interim Director of Health Lance Himes’ order that requires facial coverings in K-12 schools, the Ohio Department of Health announced Saturday.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there is not enough evidence at this time whether face shields are as effective as a mask or facial covering.

“At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks,” the CDC website states.

Ohio’s K-12 mask order states that “all students, faculty, and staff in any child care setting, school building, or other location that provides care or education to any child in kindergarten through grade twelve in the State of Ohio shall wear facial coverings at all times.” The order states there are some narrow exemptions, such as those with medical conditions or while students are eating, drinking or playing at recess.

If someone is unable to wear a mask, a face shield may still be an option, the ODH stated. The CDC suggests that some circumstances, such as lip reading, may also require the use of a face shield as an alternative to a mask. In those cases, a face shield should cover the forehead, wrap around the sides of the face and extend below the chin, the Ohio Department of Health said. Anyone who is unable to use a mask should pay extra attention to other preventative measures, such as social distancing, the release stated.

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