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Desk shields may not be efficient in preventing the spread of COVID-19

Barriers may inhibit airflow in classrooms, allowing particles to linger
CCISD classroom.jpg
Posted at 4:57 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 19:01:01-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — According to new research, desk shields may not be as efficient at preventing the spread of COVID-19 as previously thought. A recent article released by the New York Times shows research has indicated the barriers prevent proper airflow in classrooms, which could keep potentially contagious particles in the air longer.

Dr. Jaime Fergie, the Director of Infectious Diseases at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, believes barriers may not be the right answer in schools.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend money to get a lot of plastic barriers at schools,” he said. “In reality, it may interrupt the flow of air. If you have a lot of those dividers, the natural flow of air is going to be interrupted.”

Dr. Fergie believes vaccines, mask-wearing, and proper hygiene are the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

“My opinion is, in particular when we talk about schools, we need to go to the basics. Everybody who is 12 years of age or older should be vaccinated, that’s fundamental,” he said, adding, “Consistent and correct mask use is much more important and is going to help. Also, hand washing and respiratory etiquette, when people cough or sneeze.”

Recently, the Corpus Christi Independent School District announced it would be spending a little over $500,000 to purchase desk shields at its schools. In a statement, CCISD said the following when asked about that decision:

“In addition to strongly encouraging masks, CCISD has placed hand-washing stations throughout our schools and has installed desk shields as well, particularly at the elementary level. The shields, provided as added precautions and safety measures, can act as sneeze-guards and otherwise provide a barrier between persons. We determined this purchase, made with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund dollars, could provide an added level of comfort for our staff and students, particularly our students under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination.”

At least one CCISD student said he feels safer with the desk shields up in the classroom.

“They have shields, and I think it’s more safer with shields,” said Emmanuel Gallegos, a fourth grade student at Montgomery Elementary School.