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 speech-language pathologists (SLPs) 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 mask)
- Will clear masks and face shields be provided for SLPs (to make their mouth visible) when working with students to remediate speech sound disorders and social skills training, and when working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing?
- How much time will the school district allow between student sessions for SLPs 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 SLPs 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 SLP)
- Will the district install/retrofit a ventilation system for improved ventilation and filtration to avoid air recirculation?
- Due to the number of different students seen by SLPs, what consideration will be given to allow for telepractice services even if students return to school? (e.g., SLP provides telepractice services to students from their office/room or remotely)
- What considerations will be given to those SLPs who see a large number of students and travel between schools, potentially exposing themselves and others to the virus on a daily/weekly basis?
- What provisions and supports are in place for SLPs to safely conduct state mandated hearing screenings?
- Workload will increase due to delayed assessments from the spring. What will the district do to support SLPs 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 classrooms?
- Will the SLP be supported and protected by the district if a family accuses them of transmitting COVID-19 to their child?
- If the SLP 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 SLPs have if they contract COVID-19 in the work setting?
Get up-to-date COVID-19 information and resources for physical and virtual reopening for school-based SLPs.