Comprehensive precautionary Measures as schools reopen

As the school reopen the aim of this article is to provide teaching staff with information on:

  1. Physical distancing at school
  2. Practicing health and hand hygiene
  3. Cleaning and disinfecting tips for the classroom
  4. Actions to take if a student appears sick.

As the school, a lot will be determined by the effort put by parents and teachers to ensure that running of school is efficient and the spread of Covid 19 is limited as much as possible.

As  some students will be returning to school from households where they heard false information about COVID 19. Teachers will have the obligation to education them on the facts such as what it is, how it is spread and house to protect ourselves.

  1. Physical distancing at schools
  2.  Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre between everyone present at school
  3. Increase desk spacing (at least 1 metre between desks.
  4. Limit the mixing of classes for school and after-school activities. For example, students in a class will stay in one classroom throughout the day, while teachers move between classrooms; or classes could use different entrances, if available, or establish an order for each class to enter and leave the building/classroom
  5. Stagger the school day to vary the start and end times and avoid having all the students and teachers together at once 
  6. Consider increasing the number of teachers, if possible, to allow for fewer students per classroom (if space is available)
  7. Advise against crowding during school pick-up or day care, and if possible avoid pick up by older family or community members (i.e. grandparents). Arrange school pick up/drop off times differently to decrease any large gatherings of children at a given time
  8. Use signs, ground markings, tape, barriers and other means to maintain 1 meter distance in queues around entrances.
  9. Discuss how to manage physical education and sports lessons
  10. Move lessons outdoors or ventilate rooms as much as possible
  11. Encourage students not to gather and socialize in big groups upon leaving school grounds.

Teachers in the school will encourage students to observe the rules. Create a doo and don’t’s list with them. Develop a list together around how students will greet each other.

2.      Health and hand hygiene

Teachers will play a critical role in ensuring students comprehend the precautions they should take to protect themselves and other from contacting and spreading Covid 19

The five steps for hand washing

  1. Wet hands with safe, running water
  2. Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
  3. Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including backs of hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds. You can encourage students to sing a quick song at this point to make it a fun habit
  4. Rinse thoroughly with running water
  5. Dry hands with a clean cloth or single-use towel
  6. If there is limited access to a sink, running water or soap in the school, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
  7. Cold water and warm water are equally effective at killing germs and viruses – as long as you use soap!

Encourage students to get into the practice of regularly washing their hands and/or applying hand sanitizers at key moments, such as entering and leaving the classroom; touching surfaces, learning materials, books, and after using a tissue to blow their nose.

Students should always cough and/or sneeze into their elbow. However, if by accident they do so in/on their hands, instruct them to immediately wash their hands or apply hand sanitizer. If students sneeze or cough into a tissue, ensure that it is disposed of immediately and that they wash their hands. It will be extremely important to normalize the idea of frequent and routine hand washing.

Even with clean hands, encourage students to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Germs can transfer from those areas on to their clean hands and spread around the classroom this way.

Reinforce frequent hand washing and sanitation and procure needed supplies. Prepare and maintain hand washing stations with soap and water, and if possible, place alcohol-based hand sanitizers in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets.

3.      Cleaning and disinfecting

Daily cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, taps, phones and toys.

Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface.

Tips for staff using cleaning materials

  1. Ensure you understand all instruction labels and understand safe and appropriate use
  2. Follow the instructions on the labels
  3. Cleaning products and disinfectants often call for the use of gloves or eye protection. For example, gloves should always be worn to protect your hands when working with bleach solutions
  4. Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels indicate it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can result in serious injury or death
  5. Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used if appropriate for the surface
  6. Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection and has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 0.5%. Ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Some bleaches, such as those designed for safe use on coloured clothing or for whitening may not be suitable for disinfection
  7. Household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted
  8. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser
  9. Leave solution on the surface for at least 1 minute.

4.      Actions to take if one of your students appears to be sick

Identifying COVID-19 symptoms

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, confusion, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and skin rashes.

School preparations and what to do if one of your students displays any of the symptoms

  1. Designate a specific area in the school (i.e. near the entrance) as a waiting room where children can wait. Ideally, this room should be well-ventilated. If there are school nurses available, it is recommended that they are designated staff in this waiting area. If students feel ill and/or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they should wait in the designated room to be picked up by their parents/caregiver. Afterwards, the room should be cleaned, disinfected and sanitized
  2. Provide the sick student with a medical mask if available
  3. Consider daily screening for body temperature, and history of fever or feeling feverish in the previous 24 hours, on entry into the building for all staff, students and visitors to identify persons who are sick 
  4. Ensure a procedure for separating sick students and staff from those who are well – without creating stigma – and a process for informing parents, and consulting with health care providers/ health authorities wherever possible
  5. Students/ staff may need to be referred directly to a health facility, depending on the situation/ context, or sent home
  6. Encourage all students to stay home and self-isolate should they feel ill
  7. Develop a standard of operation if temperature screening is required
  8. Share procedures with parents and students ahead of time.

There have been several reports of children acquiring a multisystem inflammatory condition, which is possibly linked with COVID-19. If you notice any rash, hypertension, or acute gastrointestinal problems in your students, it could be an indication that they are experiencing multisystem inflammatory syndrome and should seek medical attention immediately.

The Ministry of education Published a Comprehensive Guideline explaining the role of teachers, parents and general community in the phase opening of school.

NOTE :Parts of this article were borrowed from UNICEF posted on 09th  September 2020

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