The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has advised school districts to clean car seats and child safety restraint systems with mild detergent and water instead of disinfecting them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The medical association warns that disinfecting could "compromise the crashworthiness of the equipment." They explained that chemicals can degrade the strength of car seats. In a statement, the AAP said, in most cases, the safety equipment "can only be cleaned with mild detergent and water." This will help ensure that the restraint system will function as intended in case of a vehicular accident.
AAP added that a previously issued recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use an EPA-registered disinfectant is, therefore, not appropriate.
The AAP is also instructing school districts to make sure to "document that child safety restraint systems (CSRS) are paired with the same child for each trip."
The medical association stated that caregivers should also follow established precautions including using cloth face coverings; physical distancing; and washing hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Caregivers of children with special needs are advised to take the child's specific needs into account when developing a transportation plan - for example, for those who use a wheelchair or tracheostomy tubes. School districts have also been instructed to "establish organized seating plans for students who use car seats or child safety restraint systems in school buses."
AAP instructs school districts to have equipment used by a child who tests positive for the coronavirus removed from service for a few days. Denise Donaldson, a certified child passenger safety technician and instructor, recommends that the child safety restraints systems should be removed from service for a week.
AAP said that, "a possible infected car seat or CSRS should be stored out of reach or in a securely tied plastic bag." Transporters should use a substitute car safety seat or harness device in its place in the meantime.
Seatbelts cannot be removed from vehicles so, the seating position used by the infected child should be taken out of service for a few days, after which the seat and seatbelt should be cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions.
In the case of potential asymptomatic riders, AAP advises disinfecting, whenever possible, when several students ride the same school bus at different times of the day.
AAP also advises students who use the school transport to use hand sanitizer and wear eye protection. Ryan Gray "AAP Advises Against Disinfecting Child Safety Restraint Systems" stnonline.com (Aug. 24, 2020).