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Guidance on Physical Barriers in Classrooms

In General Purpose Classrooms, Northwestern will be identifying instructor zones by measuring and taping the floor clearly designating where instructors can walk freely across the front of the room. This, combined with face coverings, will allow instructors to use the writing surfaces while maintaining physical distancing.

While physical barriers can be effective in certain situations to intercept respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, etc. that are thought to transmit COVID-19, it is the least effective protective measure. Barriers are the most effective in transactional areas where people must be in close proximity and pass objects between one another. Maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between all instructors and students in classrooms and everyone wearing face coverings are much more effective protective measures. Additionally, as most instructors move around in the classroom to utilize whiteboards, answer questions, etc., it is impractical to install a barrier that would provide effective protection. Because of these reasons, Northwestern does not encourage utilizing barriers in classroom settings.

In certain situations, students may have a hearing disability and need the ability to read an instructor's lips. In these situations, the instructor may wear a face shield in lieu of a face covering, however they must maintain 6 feet of distance from all others in the classroom at all times and they must utilize a microphone to prevent projecting their voice and creating additional respiratory droplets.