As plans are continually developed and modified around reopening schools, there are a number of considerations/concerns regarding safety when resuming in-person services. The following questions and resources can serve as a guide for educational audiologists to share with school administrators for consideration in the development of plans for safely returning to school.
Personal Protective Equipment
- What personal protective equipment (PPE) will the school district provide for staff and students—such as masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns—and will it be provided daily?
- What will the PPE policy include? (e.g., requiring students and staff to always wear a masks)?
- Will clear masks and face shields be provided for educational audiologists when working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing?
- How much time will the school district allow between student evaluations for educational audiologists to clean/sanitize their workspace and materials?
- Will the district be able to provide new technology equipment in order to minimize spread of the virus? (e.g., individual microphones for teachers using FM systems, individual laptops)
- What protocols are in place for sanitizing technology if it travels from home to school?
- Will educational audiologists be relocated to larger, safer workspaces to allow for appropriate physical distancing and how will those spaces be modified for safety? (e.g., plexiglass partitions as a protective barrier between students and the educational audiologist)?
- Will the district install/retrofit a ventilation system for improved ventilation and filtration to avoid air recirculation?
- Workload will increase due to delayed assessments from the spring. What will the district do to support educational audiologists with multiple assessments and the associated high paperwork burden?
- Wearing a mask can result in muffled sounding speech. Does the district have an adequate supply of FM systems/hearing assistance technology to provide amplification in general education and special education classrooms?
- What considerations will be given to those educational audiologists who travel between schools potentially exposing themselves and others to a large number of different students on a daily/weekly basis?
- What provisions and supports are in place for educational audiologists to safely conduct state mandated hearing screenings in schools?
- Will educational audiologists be supported and protected by the district if a family accuses them of transmitting COVID-19 to their child?
- If the educational audiologist must quarantine due to exposure with a COVID-19 positive student/staff member, will the district support adequate leave with pay?
- What protections and support will educational audiologists have if they contract COVID-19 in the work setting?
Accessible Remote Education
- Does the district have a plan to provide students with access to and effective use of interpreters and CART service/captioning within distance learning platforms?
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information and resources for physical and virtual reopening for educational audiologists.