How to keep schools COVID-safe

As schools begin to reopen all around the world, the World Health Organization offers advice on how to do it safely.

Altogether, schools mainly choose from one of three options:

Distance learning: All instructions and lessons are done remotely in this model using technology and other necessary tools.

In-person schooling: This category which is very similar to traditional schooling makes use of enhanced health and safety precautions and procedures.

Hybrid schooling:  This category comprises elements of both distance and in-person schooling. Students get to go to school on selected days and homeschool for the remainder.

The most important factor is to take quick action if a child or teacher becomes infected.

And ensure they maintain social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand hygiene.

With many schools open again, the challenge is to keep COVID-19 out of the classroom as much as possible.

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Here are some things the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested individuals do.

Communication is very important

Schools and educational institutions must put in systems that monitor the health of students and staff, detect cases and make sure children who are not feeling well stay at home. Communication is vital so that students, teachers and parents know what to do to minimize the spread of the virus.

The World Health Organization emphasizes that we all disinfect things and surfaces, improve ventilation within school spaces, maintain social distance and enforce the wearing of face masks. Carrying out testing and contact tracing should be part of any school’s response to the virus so that kids who have come into contact with the virus can go into quarantine.

Talk to kids about the risks that not keeping to Covid rules could do

Parents and guardians play important roles in shielding their wards from the virus.

All the safety measures promoted by the larger community  – including but not limited to distancing, good hand hygiene, wearing a mask and avoiding crowded places if possible, helps in safeguarding all its youngest members.

Parents should also ensure they remind kids and anyone around them that anyone can be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including children, and they can pass the virus to others so we all have a role to play in reducing the possibility of the spread of COVID-19.

The following steps can be taken to encourage social distancing during in-person schooling:

  1. Getting rid of lockers or grouping them by student groups, or cohorts
  2. The creation of a one-way traffic in school hallways
  3. Make use of outdoor space when possible for instruction, meals and during the break.
  4. Curtailing the number of children on school buses
  5. Putting spaces on desks out and having them all face in the same direction
  6. Make use of physical barriers, such as plexiglass shields and partitions, to separate the educators from the student’s students
  7. Divide students up into distinct groups or cohorts which will stay together during the school day and reduce the interaction between different groups

Vaccinate As Soon As Possible

Individuals and stakeholders in school should ensure they are vaccinated. where a vaccine is available. Teachers and active school administrators should be a priority for vaccination.

WHO’s recommendation is to get vaccinated when it’s your turn and to make sure that you receive the full course of the vaccination.

What to do if your kid gets exposed to COVID-19

  • Ensure that your emergency contact information and school pickup and drop-off information are current at school. If that list includes anyone who is at risk of illness, consider adding an alternate contact.
  • Inquire about how your kids’ school will communicate with families when a positive case or exposure to someone with COVID-19 occurs and how they plan to maintain student privacy.
  • Plan for periods of quarantine
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