Learnings from the clinic that teachers can apply in the classroom.

Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to a number of teachers as they prepare for the upcoming school year.   Due to legal reasons, I need to clarify that this blog post is based on my personal thoughts and you should follow the recommendations and guidelines provided by your employer, ministry of labour, and the local and/or national health regulatory bodies. 
I have no comments about how to safely plan, organize and operate a classroom.  However, my experiences as a clinician working in the hospital, and the use of PPE, may be helpful for teachers.  As a respiratory therapist at a Pulmonary Function lab, I coach patients as they perform breathing tests.  Due to the nature of this diagnostic testing, I need to take the appropriate precautions so I not only protect myself, but also the people who are coming for testing.  I am going to focus on what I wear to protect myself.  A surgical mask, a face shield, a gown, and a pair of gloves.  I am guessing that teachers are asked to wear cotton masks, or surgical masks if available.  If you have access to a face shield, it would be a great idea.  Make sure it curves around to cover your face from different angles.  Also, it would be helpful if the shield covers not only the eyes but extends to cover over the mask.   Have a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby to clean your hands as needed, especially before and after touching your mask or face shield.  While I have access to scrubs and gowns, you may be more limited.  One idea is to bring a change of clothes to work so you can change at school.  The clothes that you have worn during the day can be placed inside a plastic bag and transported directly into the laundry machine or basket (depending on whatever system you have in place).  
Since I do not have access to a classroom or teaching experience, these recommendations are based on my conversations with a few teachers.  It is not a perfect system. You need to look at things case by case.  As always, follow the best practices put in place by your employer and local/national health regulatory organizations to protect yourself.

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Be safe.

Farzad Refahi
August 29, 2020