(Ohio) – As schools prepare for the new academic year, the Ohio Department of Health is prohibiting the use of face shields as a substitute for face coverings/masks.
Officials explained in a press release that COVID-19 is believed to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person — sometimes without showing any symptoms — coughs, sneezes, or talks. Research, they said, has shown that cloth face coverings can block these respiratory droplets. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio, face coverings, with some exceptions, are required in public places and in K-12 schools.
However, officials indicated that face shields have not been shown to be an adequate substitute. Governor Mike DeWine shared the announcement via Facebook on Saturday, August 15th along with a link to the following Q&A on the matter:
Q: Should I wear a face shield instead of a mask or cloth face covering?
A: The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not currently recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for masks/face coverings. That is because, at this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides against the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer to people nearby. There is currently not enough evidence to support the wearing of face shields to control the spray of respiratory droplets.
Q: Can exceptions be made for schools?
A: Ohio’s K-12 facial covering order requires facial coverings that cover the nose, mouth, and chin. There are limited exceptions to the order. If one of those exceptions applies to an individual, a face shield would be appropriate. Schoolwide use of face shields instead of masks is not appropriate and does not meet the requirements of the order.
Q: Why are masks and cloth face coverings required instead of face shields?
A: Masks and cloth face coverings are intended to reduce the amount of respiratory droplets sprayed from the wearer into the environment, onto other people, or onto surfaces. There is substantial evidence that they are effective at protecting people nearby from the spray of wearers.
Q: What about situations in which a mask can’t reasonably be used?
A: It is understood that some circumstances (such as the need for lip reading) require an alternative to masks. If a face shield is used in those instances, it should be worn against the forehead with no gap, wrap around the sides of the face, and extend below the chin.
Q: What other precautions should I take if I must wear a face shield?
A: Social distancing of at least 6 feet from others provides an important layer of protection, even when masks are worn. If unable to use a mask, it is imperative that increased attention is placed on social. For more information, visit: coronavirus.ohio.gov
distancing as well as other preventive measures, such as frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol; and increased cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.
Q: What else should I know if I must wear a face shield?
A: Always wash your hands before and after removing a face shield and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing it. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single-use, and reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use according to manufacturer instructions or by following CDC face shield cleaning instructions.
• Plastic face shields are NOT recommended for newborns and infants.
• Masks/face coverings should NEVER be placed on children younger than 2 or anyone who cannot remove them without assistance.