COVID partitions: Where and why

Described by the CDC as physical barriers, partitions are an oft-recommended but less often discussed component in the fight against COVID-19. What are the benefits to installing clear partitions, what can’t they do, and where are they already in use?


Full-length partitions in a classroom

Benefits

Partitions can provide an extra protective barrier that’s especially helpful when people are less than 6 ft. apart—such as in a classroom or reception area or at a checkout counter. Glass, acrylic, or polycarbonate shields can block large droplets that are expelled when a person talks, coughs, or sneezes.


Limitations

While sneeze guards can intercept large particles, they can’t prevent aerosols from accumulating in the air. During short interactions an extra barrier can provide a helpful layer of protection, but it becomes less effective when interactions last more than a few minutes and especially if individuals are not wearing masks.


Physical barriers are included in both CDC and OSHA recommendations as part of a multi-faceted response to COVID-19. A Vox article from the end of last year notes, “Public health experts have advocated for a layered approach to protecting oneself from the virus. . . . That means in addition to plastic shields, businesses should still ask customers to social distance and wear masks, while ensuring that there’s proper ventilation so that even if airborne particles are released, they won’t linger for very long.”



Locations

  • The White House: According to NBC Washington, partitions have recently been installed in both the East and West Wing, costing $12,000.

  • State legislatures: Legislatures in states including Utah and Arkansas have installed partitions as part of their COVID prevention strategies.

  • Offices: The New Yorker recently examined the state of the post-COVID office, finding that some are introducing clear plastic barriers, and some are rethinking the office layout altogether.

  • Schools: From South Carolina to Detroit to Las Vegas, numerous states and districts have implemented physical barriers in their learning plans.



Let Us Help

At KTM Solutions, we’re committed to maintaining as safe an environment as possible in our own offices and helping you maintain social distance and implement prevention strategies in your space. Contact us about your partition needs and let our engineers develop a custom solution.