Use of face shields in schools is not an appropriate substitute for masks, ODH says

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) says face shields are not an appropriate substitute for masks in educational settings during the coronavirus pandemic.

The department says they are following federal guidance and prohibiting the schoolwide use of face shields as a substitute for facial coverings/masks. (Watch the video above for a look at the best and worst facial coverings for protection against infectious disease.)

In fact, ODH states that face shields do not comply with the Director’s Order Requiring the Use of Facial Coverings in Child Education Settings.

This announcement comes after Governor Mike DeWine announced a new order requiring masks in schools for students in grades K-12. (Watch the video below for more on the mask requirement in schools.)

The 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.”

There are exceptions for the following students:

  • Children under the age of 2 years
  • Any child unable to remove the face covering without assistance
  • A child with significant behavioral or psychological issues undergoing treatment that is exacerbated specifically by the use of facial covering
  • A child living with severe autism or with extreme developmental delay who may become agitated or anxious wearing a mask
  • A child with facial deformity that causes airway obstruction

There are also additional exemptions, including, but not limited to, when eating or drinking and when playing at recess. The full list of exemptions is available in the order.

ODH says if an individual meets an exception to the K-12 face covering requirement, a face shield may be an option.

However, for most Ohioans, the face shield is not a suitable substitute.

This is in part because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at this time it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides.

Officials say there is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control and therefore the CDC does not currently recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

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