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Back to School Safety: How Gloves, Masks, and Sanitizers Can Protect Students and Staff

by Patrick Novak on September 22, 2023

As students and staff across the world eagerly prepare to return to educational institutions, there's a collective sense of excitement and optimism. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that the safety of students and staff must be a top priority. In this comprehensive blog, we'll explore the critical role of personal protective equipment (PPE) – gloves, masks, and sanitizers – in ensuring a safe return to school.

The return to in-person learning after an extended period of remote or hybrid education comes with its share of challenges. Still, with the right measures in place, we can navigate these challenges effectively. In this blog, we'll delve into the importance of PPE, discuss the various types available, provide guidance on proper usage, and share strategies for implementing these protective measures in educational settings.


The Crucial Role of PPE in Back to School Safety

The return to in-person learning after an extended hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an exciting prospect for students, parents, and educators alike. However, it's essential to acknowledge that the ongoing threat of infectious diseases remains a significant concern, making the safety of students and staff paramount. In this section, we will delve into the pivotal role that personal protective equipment (PPE) plays in ensuring a safe and secure return to school.

Understanding the Threat

Before delving into the specifics of PPE, it's crucial to understand the ongoing threat that infectious diseases pose within educational settings. Schools and universities are dynamic environments where students and staff frequently come into close contact. This proximity increases the risk of disease transmission, making these institutions susceptible to outbreaks.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated just how easily infectious diseases can disrupt education. Schools had to shift to remote or hybrid learning models, causing disruptions in learning and impacting the social and emotional well-being of students. However, by embracing the use of PPE, we can minimize these disruptions and create an environment where students can learn safely.

The New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a "new normal," characterized by widespread mask-wearing, enhanced hygiene practices, and the adoption of PPE as an integral part of our daily lives. This "new normal" is not just a temporary measure but a fundamental shift in how we approach safety and well-being. As students return to classrooms and campuses, PPE will be a constant companion, offering protection and peace of mind.

Minimizing Disruption

One of the key benefits of PPE is its ability to minimize disruption. With effective PPE measures in place, educational institutions can continue their mission of educating students without the fear of large-scale outbreaks that could lead to school closures.

PPE provides a practical solution for managing the risks associated with infectious diseases. By reducing the spread of pathogens through respiratory droplets or contaminated surfaces, PPE helps maintain a healthy learning environment. This means fewer quarantines, fewer interruptions to the academic calendar, and ultimately, a more consistent and fulfilling educational experience for students.

Moreover, PPE isn't just about safeguarding physical health; it also contributes to the psychological well-being of students and staff. Knowing that these protective measures are in place creates a sense of security and reduces anxiety among those returning to school. It reinforces the idea that educational institutions are taking their safety seriously and are committed to providing a secure environment.


The Trio of Protection: Gloves, Masks, and Sanitizers

Gloves: Explain the significance of gloves in minimizing contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and objects. Discuss different glove types, such as latex and nitrile, and their suitability for various tasks within the school environment.

Masks: Dive deeper into the role of masks, highlighting their effectiveness in reducing the spread of respiratory droplets. Discuss the importance of mask fit and comfort, as well as the types of masks suitable for different age groups.

Sanitizers: Explore the crucial role of hand sanitizers in maintaining hand hygiene. Explain the difference between alcohol-based and non-alcohol-based sanitizers and their effectiveness against pathogens.


Proper PPE Usage: A Step-by-Step Guide

Gloves: Provide detailed instructions on how to correctly put on and remove gloves to avoid contamination.

Masks: Offer a step-by-step guide on putting on and removing masks, emphasizing the importance of not touching the mask's front while wearing it.

Sanitizers: Explain the proper hand sanitization process, including when and how often to use hand sanitizer.


Age-Appropriate PPE Guidance

One of the essential aspects of implementing effective PPE measures in educational institutions is recognizing that students of different age groups have distinct needs, capabilities, and challenges when it comes to using personal protective equipment (PPE). Tailoring PPE guidance to each age group is crucial to ensuring that all students, from the youngest to the oldest, can safely and comfortably adhere to these measures.


Elementary School:

For elementary school students, introducing and enforcing PPE measures may pose unique challenges due to their young age and developmental stage. Here's how to provide age-appropriate PPE guidance for this group:

1. Engaging Education:

Teaching PPE concepts to younger students should be interactive and engaging. Utilize storytelling, games, and age-appropriate videos to explain the importance of wearing masks, using hand sanitizers, and wearing gloves when necessary. Make the learning experience fun and memorable.

2. Visual Aids and Friendly Designs:

Younger children often respond well to visual cues. Use posters, cartoons, and illustrations to depict proper mask-wearing, hand sanitization, and glove usage. Consider offering masks with child-friendly designs, such as their favorite characters or playful patterns, to encourage compliance.

3. Role Modeling:

Teachers and school staff can play a pivotal role in setting a positive example. Wear masks and PPE in a friendly and approachable manner, demonstrating that it's normal and necessary to do so. Encourage students to follow suit by turning mask-wearing into a fun daily routine.

4. Sensory-Friendly PPE:

Some younger students may have sensory sensitivities. Consider offering PPE options that are gentle on their skin, such as masks with soft, adjustable straps and latex-free gloves. This ensures that PPE doesn't cause discomfort or distress.


Middle School and High School:

Middle and high school students are more mature but face unique challenges regarding PPE, such as peer pressure and self-consciousness. Providing guidance that resonates with their age group is crucial:

1. Education with Real-World Context:

Middle and high school students can better understand the reasons behind PPE usage. Discuss real-world scenarios, including how PPE helps protect not only themselves but also their friends, family, and the community.

2. Encourage Individual Responsibility:

Emphasize that wearing PPE is not just a rule but an individual responsibility. Encourage students to take ownership of their safety and the safety of others. Peer pressure can work both ways – students can motivate each other to adhere to PPE guidelines.

3. Addressing Self-Consciousness:

Teenagers may be self-conscious about wearing masks, especially if they feel it hinders social interactions or self-expression. Provide a variety of mask options that allow for personalization, such as masks in different colors or designs. Encourage students to see masks as a fashion statement.

4. PPE Breaks and Zones:

Create designated PPE-free zones, such as outdoor spaces where students can safely distance themselves, to alleviate discomfort and encourage mask breaks when necessary. Ensure that PPE guidelines are flexible to accommodate the dynamic needs of teenagers.

5. Respectful Communication:

Foster open and respectful communication between students, teachers, and staff regarding PPE concerns. Encourage students to express their concerns and questions, and address them with empathy and understanding.


Strategies for Implementing PPE Measures in Schools


PPE Stations: Explain the concept of designated PPE stations within the school where students and staff can access gloves, masks, and sanitizers.

PPE Education: Discuss the importance of educating students and staff about PPE's significance, including its role in preventing illness and ensuring everyone's safety.

Hygiene Protocols: Highlight the importance of implementing strict hygiene protocols in schools, including regular handwashing and sanitization breaks.


Challenges and Solutions

1. Supply Chain Challenges: Acknowledge the difficulties in procuring PPE and discuss strategies for maintaining a consistent supply.

2. PPE Compliance: Address the issue of compliance and provide strategies for fostering a culture of responsibility among students and staff.



In conclusion, as we prepare for a return to in-person learning, gloves, masks, and sanitizers are our allies in ensuring the safety of students and staff. By understanding their importance, using them correctly, and implementing effective strategies, educational institutions can create a safe environment that allows for quality learning and growth. The challenges are real, but with the right precautions and a collective commitment to safety, we can overcome them and embrace the opportunities that come with returning to school. Together, we can make education safe and enriching once again.