At the start of this unprecedented school year, school nurses have emerged as education’s front line workers. Consequently, to ensure adequate respiratory protection, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) recommends school nurses don N95 respirator masks. Already, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina and other states have directed schools to obtain N95 respirators and secure OSHA-mandated fit tests.
A Respirator Fit Test (RFT) assures the N95 mask properly fits the wearer’s facial configuration and forms a tight seal to filter airborne contaminants, including COVID-19.
The respiratory protection guidelines arrive as administrators grapple with the decision to return students to classrooms, rely on remote learning, or adopt a hybrid approach. The CDC recently updated school mitigation strategies to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
What’s a Fit Test?
As school nurses join the legions of first-time 95 wearers, some schooling about fit tests will help to reassure candidates. For example, during the simple 15-minute fit test, the user wears the N95 along with a hood over their head. Then, a tester applies a series of test agents to gauge their ability to detect the smells and tastes. Finally, prior to the procedure, OSHA requires fit test candidates to complete a medical evaluation. The evaluation is used to clear them for the RFT.
Fit Tests by the Book
To protect school staff, administrators should secure fit tests from an experienced occupational healthcare provider. Mobile Health conducts thousands of fit tests annually for employees with an occupational risk for exposure to workplace pathogens. Already this year, Mobile Health has fit tested 15,000+ healthcare workers.
For schools ready to incorporate this essential safety practice, Mobile Health provides 3 convenient fit test options:
- Next-day appointments at one of 2,700+ clinic and urgent care locations in New York and nationwide
- A school- or district-wide onsite fit-testing event for large groups
- FIT KIT shipped to schools to fit test up to 50 staff at the school site, using Mobile Health guidance, materials and support.
Additionally, Mobile Health can provide each school a dedicated online medical questionnaire site for fit test candidates. The secure online questionnaire reduces paperwork, saves time and expedites medical clearance of school nurses and other healthcare personnel for fit tests.
Today’s assignment for schools: Contact Mobile Health to request respirator fit tests to protect the essential workers caring for your students.