MASON CITY, Iowa - An infectious disease specialist with the University of Iowa answered questions about back to school safety during the pandemic on a webinar Thursday night.
Dr. Eli Perencevich says masks and face shields should be on every parents' back to school shopping list.
"This next year is going to be hard. I think we're probably 7 or 8 months from the first vaccine," he said.
He is predicting a bumpy first semester in our schools, but thinks children will fare better than adults in the classroom and says grownups should be vigilant in protecting themselves.
"If you were going to go in, any adult going into the school, I think should have a mask and a face shield. Cotton masks plus a face shield if possible," said Dr. Perencevich.
His biggest fear involves activities such as band and choir. The easiest way for COVID-19 to spread is through exhaled droplets. THe doctor says outdoor practice might be the best option.
"I don't think you can safely do them indoors. That would be my reccomendation. I don't know how you could put a mask on kids and you'd almost have to put a mask on the end of the tuba or something like this."
One of his biggest fears going into the school year is children being mocked for wearing PPE in the classroom. He says we need to make sure kids feel comfortable.
"We have to destigmatize masks. The base standard for all parents and teachers is to accept any kid who is wearing a mask or face shield and not have their kids or anyone make fun of people for protecting themseves and others," said Dr. Perencevich.
When it comes to riding the school bus, he recommends kids open the windows during their ride, to let fresh air flow inside.