Face masks versus shields in schools: Doctors weigh in

Sophie Bolich:

With the start of the school year rapidly approaching amid a recent uptick in coronavirus cases, healthcare professionals, parents and school administrators are weighing the best options for returning to school in the fall.

Options include limiting class size, a modified schedule, restricting access to community areas such as playgrounds, daily temperature checks and the use of PPE, such as face masks or shields.

Brian Ellison, business development manager at Midwest Prototyping, said that face shields in particular have drawn interest from local school administrators, especially private schools.

In March, Ellison partnered with Lennon Rodger, director of the Engineering Design Innovation Lab at UW–Madison, and Jesse Darley, a mechanical engineer at Madison design firm Delve, to create a face shield prototype using easily accessible materials. The team named the open source design the Badger Shield.

Since then, the project has expanded to include other forms of PPE. Recently, Badger Shield saw an increase in demand for pediatric-sized shields, which could be used alone or in conjunction with face masks if and when kids return to the classroom.