This spring, families across the United States faced their biggest challengeworking from home while at the same time trying to help their children navigate remote learning and social distancing. Children, parents, and schools reacted as effectively as they could given the limits surrounding sheltering in place.  The truth remains, however, that learning is more effective when kids can engage in a hands-on experience (75% of content is retained through a hands-on learning experience). Plus, schools provide so much more than academic instruction. Schools are fundamental in the development of social and emotional skills as well as providing physical activity, mental wellbeing, and a safe environment.   

Throughout the school day, children are expressing their ideas and thoughts with peers, growing friendships, and learning how to be independent individuals. So, a big question remains, how does a community re-open schools safely in the middle of a pandemic? First, as social distancing indicates, we need to give each student his/her own space. This can be achieved by spacing out seating when possible and controlling the flow of student traffic in the hallways. Second, encouraging frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizing must be a priority. Third, mandating the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a key component. PPE encompasses a large range of products, with the most popular being face masks followed by face shields.   

child wearing face mask

Face masks are a simple way to reduce the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. However, they are most effective when everyone wears one. You can find a variety of sizes, styles, and designs of face masks to fit any face and personality. No matter what face mask you choose, there are certain rules that should be followed when wearing one.   

1. Hands need to be clean when putting on a face mask. 

2. Masks should cover the mouth AND nose and fit snuggly against the face.   

3. You need to avoid touching the front of the mask and instead touch ear loops or ties when putting it on and taking it off. 

4. Masks need to remain dry. 

With all this said it is important to keep extra masks on hand. Disposable face masks should be replaced every 4 hours. Plus, children will get their masks dirty, wet, and quite honestly, lose them so you want to have enough available to meet their needs. 

Another layer of protection or alternative to face masks is the face shield. When paired with a face mask, face shields have the added benefit of covering the entire face. When a face mask cannot be worn, a face shield is an alternative that protects the nose and mouth from any droplets entering or leaving. A bonus is that face shields can be sanitized and wiped clean so they’re ready to re-use within seconds. 

PPE face shield

Going back to school during a pandemic creates concerns for staff, parents, and children. We can all make the educational space a little safer with social distancing, frequent hand washing/sanitizing, and wearing face masks. Let’s support children and teachers and a safe return to the classroom by following these simple steps!  

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For over 50 years, hand2mind has encouraged hands-on learning and discovery, driving deeper understanding and helping children unlock their full potential. With products designed to enhance learning in the classroom and the world around us, we strive to find new ways to encourage hands-on exploration and discovery.

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