PPE requirements for school staff

Personal Protective Equipment > PPE requirements for school staff

School staff may be unable to maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and students when providing services. Cleaning staff and staff performing cleaning tasks are also at risk for exposure to germs associated with COVID-19 and therefore are also at risk for COVID-19 spread.

In these cases, it is recommended additional steps are taken to ensure the safety of staff and students by reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 spread, through adopting additional control measures, such as use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Key Considerations

  • Developing procedures to support staff who provide services that require close contact with students, intermittently or consistently, have access and training for appropriate PPE. Staff at risk for spread of COVID-19 may include the following: early childhood educators, therapists, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, nutritional staff, daily health screeners, ect.
  • Developing procedures to ensure custodial staff and any other staff who clean and disinfect the school site should have access to training and proper PPE, including gloves, eye protection, respiratory protection, and other appropriate PPE, as required by the product instructions in the safety data sheet (SDS) and appropriate training in their safe use.
    • If respiratory protection is recommended on the SDS, consider using a respirator with a combination cartridge for chemicals and particulate exposure.
    • Ensure maintenance workers who perform routine maintenance of the HVAC system, especially checking or replacing filters and dust build up, have appropriate training and access for PPE for use.
  • Non-medical face coverings and cloth masks are not PPE. Consider wearing gloves, surgical mask, eye protection (goggles or face shield) and cover clothing or a gown if there is risk of exposure to bodily secretions.
  • Using physical barriers (e.g., plexiglass or similar materials, other impermeable dividers or partitions) to separate staff and students from each other in classrooms, office spaces, workstations or other shared spaces when six feet of distancing is unable to be maintained consistently.
  • Considering adaptations and alternatives, whenever possible, to increase the feasibility of wearing a mask to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading (e.g. clear mask for people who are deaf or hard of hearing).
  • Consider using signs, tape marks, or other visual cues, such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed 6 feet apart, to show where staff are to stand when physical barriers are not possible.
  • If respirators are required to be used by staff, advocate for development of a comprehensive respiratory protection program that includes medical exams, fit testing, and training in accordance with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection external icon standard (29 CFR 1910.134external icon).

CDC Resources

Strategies for Protecting K-12 School Staff from COVID-19

Special Considerations for teachers, substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and specialists

Use Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Guidance for Wearing Masks

Guidance for Direct Service Providers

What School Nutrition Professionals and Volunteers at Schools Need to Know about COVID-19

Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention

Cleaning, Disinfection, and Hand Hygiene in Schools – a Toolkit for School Administrators

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Hazard Communication for Disinfectants Used Against Viruses

Filtration, Fit, and Proper Use of Masks 

Other Resources

National Association of Pupil Transportation, STARTS Task Force: Student Transportation Aligned to Return to School | National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT)

Personal Protective Equipment | FDA

N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Face Masks | FDA