Desk Shield Efficiency Questioned

Plexiglass desk dividers shown here in a language classroom.

Plexiglass desk dividers shown here in a language classroom.

The use for desk shields at school is unnecessary and it’s time to get back to normal.

In Suffolk County, the current 7-day average shows less than 1.% of people testing positive.  Yet, students at WHBHS are still sitting behind dirty plastic partitions that don’t even fully surround desks. How is this effective? We then leave the classroom and walk past people in the halls without a shield. 

Many may not realize that the reason for the shields is that they are required by the NYS Department of Health.  The use of barriers are necessary if students are closer than six feet apart.

According to the article, “Putting Students Behind Plexiglass Isn’t Making Them Any Safer” in New York Magazine, “Students also report that with the partitions, they at many times can’t hear their teachers or each other, so they end up speaking louder (which emits more particles from their lungs) or lean outside the barriers to hear or be heard — which, of course, defeats their purpose.” 

In the article posted on March 19, 2021, “ CDC changes school guidance, allowing desks to be closer”  on states that, “By using desk shields, and the new regulations that desks can be 3 feet apart, will allow schools to have more students in for a prolonged period of time.”  According to the article, it says that, “The new guidance removes the  recommendations for plastic shields.  We don’t have a lot of evidence of their effectiveness.”

Even teachers aren’t fans of the shields.  Mrs. Giacchetto, a first grade teacher at Rocky Point Elementary School said, “I am not a big fan of the shields in my classroom.  After they clean them, there is always a film on them and it is very difficult for the children to see through them.  I am hoping that by next year, we won’t have to use the desk shields.”

New York Magazine put it best: “It is, of course, obvious that sitting with your head penned inside a three-sided box all day is not conducive to learning or communicating. In the end they really don’t affect or help the spread of Covid.”

It’s time to take down the partitions and get back to learning.