DuBard School for Language Disorders rethinks the traditional mask

Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:04 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Masks in the classroom can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but if you are a teacher of hearing-impaired students, wearing a mask could also prevent those kids from learning.

On the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, 10% of the students that the Dubard School for Language Disorders serves are hearing impaired. Speech-language pathologist Missy Schraeder, director of the Dubard School, said that means traditional masks aren’t going to work for their students who have some sort of hearing device, hearing aid or cochlear implant.

“So, that means they’re talking, they are lip-reading and they aren’t signing," Schraeder said. “So, for our students to be able to lip read, you have to be able to see the speaker’s face.”

Schraeder said the school and teachers have traded in traditional masks for clear face shields.

“We have invested in face shields," Schraeder said. "Also, some of our teachers have masks that have the clear cut out in the front for when they can’t be socially distanced from their students to give those students a way of being able to see their teacher’s face to get the most information.”

Schrader said the teachers are making sure their instruction is even more intentional due to the face shields and the new realm of safety.

“So, many times we see teachers that are writing on the board and talking," Schraeder said. “Well, we have to learn not to do that. We have got to be able to write on the board and then turn and talk so the students can see their faces.”

Schrader said like all other students, their kids have been out of school for a long time. Teachers and staff have to make sure they’re keeping the classroom safe, but also making the changes necessary to make sure students are getting the most out of their time at Dubard.

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