Protecting against the COVID virus in Speech
As we head back for a new school year in the middle of COVID, Speech Therapists need to rethink how we use our therapy materials. I believe most SLPs who work with young children always have hand sanitizer and Lysol nearby, but given the heightened uncertainty with the virus, there are just going to be some materials we can't use, and some we just need to clean more. We will need to be creative, but I think there are ways to virus-proofing your Speech Therapy materials! Make sure to download the FREE parent letter at the bottom!
I've seen SO MANY Facebook group discussions about keeping preschoolers 6 feet apart, how will we use games, how do I have time to sanitize materials between groups? etc.
SLPs had to shift without any guidance in the spring to deliver services remotely.
It wasn't perfect, but we did it.
And we can do this too.
First things, first: wear a mask, have plenty of hand sanitizer and Lysol on hand, and use a plexiglass barrier on your desk if possible! If the weather permits, take Speech outside! Go to the basketball court, go on a scavenger hunt, or sit under a tree!
Difficult To Clean – Materials to remove:
- Soft dolls and stuffed animals
- Felt sets
- Play-Doh (unless you have individual containers for each kid)
- Bubbles – consider a bubble “gun”
- Sensory bin filler
- Finger puppets
- Bean bag chairs, chair cushions
Plastic is your friend.
Many of the Super Duper or my Quick-Play Articulation games can be laminated. Then you can quickly wipe down the game board, dice, and plastic game pieces. If it's a larger board game, use Press N Seal wrap to cover it on your table. Over time, Lysol wipes may deteriorate board games.
Room Decor, Bookshelves, Touchable Surfaces:
Take a good look around your Speech room – what surfaces and materials are students touching regularly? Consider removing soft bean bag chairs, pillows, and items on low bookshelves. Put things in plastic bins with lids to reduce the chance of kids touching them.
If you need to sit on the carpeted floor, put down a plastic (or disposable) table cloth.
Testing Materials and Books:
Use clear page protectors over picture book and testing pages students need to point to.
Ask parents to send in personal supplies:
Depending on your caseload and setting, consider having materials for each child (you can ask parents to send a Ziploc gallon bag or pencil pouch for their child). You can send a letter home asking for crayons, glue sticks, play-doh, etc. This will reduce exposure and you having to clean so many materials.
You can download this letter below to personalize and send to parents.
Using the iPad is a great option. You can quickly wipe it down between students or use Saran Wrap as an overlay. With so many new Boom Card activities – you just can't go wrong!
If you have a computer, laptop, or smartboard in your room, use the Digital Dice and Dot with moveable dots on Google Slides!
Read about using Boom Cards in Speech Therapy.
Traveling between schools and home:
Have a dedicated large plastic bin or washable tote bag in your car trunk to place materials in. This will limit the exposure to your car and your own family.
When I did in-home visits, I ALWAYS wore scrubs. Not everyone's homes were clean. I put down a blanket for therapy, sanitized all the toys, and wore scrubs. WHY? Because they are anti-microbial and so easy to throw in the washer and dryer. Many of my “nice” work clothes I wash on cold and some I hang or lay flat to dry. With scrubs, it's just easier. I think in a school situation, it might be beneficial for many reasons. As long as it fits within your dress code, the consistency of your dress can be good for kids.
Hopefully, I've given you some ideas about virus-proofing your speech therapy materials or at least get your wheels turning on how you will approach the school year differently. I've seen many other SLPs and teachers having these discussions on social media and I think we can all learn from each other!
What ideas have you thought of? Let me know in the comments!
Get the parent letter:
Make sure to follow my Instagram account: @literacybasedspeech where I share books and how you can use them in your sessions.