Schools act as “amplifying sites” for the spread of infectious diseases, outbreaks, and pandemics. This project assessed which nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are most acceptable to parents and teachers of school children in grades K-5 to K-8 in Pittsburgh public schools.
During the spring of 2007, the Pittsburgh Influenza Prevention Project surveyed 134 teachers and 151 parents representing nine elementary schools regarding attitudes toward NPIs and their usage by adults and school children during seasonal influenza outbreaks.
General etiquette practices such as covering coughs, handwashing, and using hand sanitizer were highly acceptable to both groups, while masks and gloves were not.
The success of an NPI or a set of NPIs depends on both its efficacy and the feasibility of implementing it with relevant populations. If masks, gloves, and other more intrusive NPIs are to be used in community settings during a severe influenza season or pandemic, it is clear that there is significant preparatory work needed to increase acceptability on the part of the adults. Without such acceptance, it is highly unlikely that children and their supervising adults will participate.