At a time when concerns surrounding COVID-19 remain, many schools are opening back up. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators must take the necessary precautions to ensure that everyone continues to take the necessary precautions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from one person to the next.
We’ll be taking a look at the five easy steps that school administrators must take in order for everyone to return to school safely. It is important to place the health and safety of everyone in the school building at the highest priority. While the reports of possible outbreaks continue to rise, a safety plan must always be implemented and follows the CDC guidelines.
If you are a school administrator that has yet to put a plan in place before students, teachers, and staff return keep reading. Now, let’s take a look at the first step on the list:
1. Provide options for students and staff
Parents will mostly be concerned for the health of their children. That’s why it’s important for those with those legitimate concerns should be provided with options. Distance learning platforms have been unveiled since the latter half of the previous school year.
These options should be available for students if and when a parent doesn’t feel comfortable sending their child to school. The option for in-person schooling should also be available, but with restrictions in place (more on that shortly). Also, teachers can also have the option of providing hybrid schooling.
Hybrid schooling is when teachers can hold class in the classroom with in-person attendees while those who are distance learning will follow along at home in real time. This makes things a lot easier for most teachers and students (especially when everyone needs to be on the same lesson).
2. Have a safety plan in place
In the event of students attending in person (including teachers and staff), it’s required to have a safety plan in place in accordance with the CDC. This includes but are not limited to the following:
- Wearing a mask: In the event when social distancing is not likely, it is important for students, faculty, and staff to wear a mask at all times. Parents, teachers, and administrators must inform children to keep their masks to themselves and to never share it with others. Also, additional masks should be on hand for students who may have forgotten to bring one. Students themselves should have spare masks at all times.
- Wash hands often: Everyone in the building must wash their hands for 20 seconds using warm water and hand soap. This should be done when you have touched items that have not been wiped down or sanitized, after you use the restroom, or prior to eating.
- Clean and disinfect: High touch areas should always be cleaned and disinfected at all times. This includes computer keyboards, faucets, doorknobs, chairs, desks, tablets, and other items that are frequently used.
- Stay home if ill: If a student, staff member, or teacher is experiencing potential symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home to ensure that they are not spreading the virus to anyone else. Schools may implement temperature readings throughout the day to ensure that their body temperatures are not of a concern.
3. Practice Social Distancing
Social distancing requires persons to stay at least six feet apart when communicating with each other. In a school setting, teachers must arrange the seating to ensure that those guidelines are being followed. In a cafeteria, persons in line must be six feet away from the person ahead of them or behind them.
You can mark off areas of the floor in six foot increments using a piece of colored tape, stickers, or the like. If possible, have food services do a contactless delivery of all foods like breakfast or lunch. All students, faculty, and staff must wear masks when in the cafeteria.
Some measures should also be implemented to adhere to the social distancing guidelines. These include but are not limited to the following:
- One way traffic: School hallways should go in one direction as opposed to the usual two-way method. This will decrease the chances of human contact as one flow of people will go in the same direction.
- Use barriers if needed: Plexiglass shields or partitions can be installed with the intent to separate the teachers from students. For example, if a student approaches a teacher at his or her desk, there should be a safe but manageable able distance to where both are communicating.
- Reduce the bus capacity: Buses should reduce the capacity of students that board. Because social distancing may be impossible at normal capacity, bus drivers may have no other choice. Depending on the number of seats, it could mean one student per seat and nothing else.
4. Make sure all children are vaccinated
While COVID-19 has been the primary focus, it seems like a lot of teachers, administrators, and parents lose sight of the other illnesses. Flu season should also be on everyone’s radar. School-aged children should at least get a flu shot prior to the beginning of the season.
That’s because the flu and COVID-19 have symptoms that are similar to each other. Keep in mind however that the flu shot DOES NOT protect against COVID-19. But it can reduce the risk of the flu considerably.
5. Have a plan in place for potential exposure
In the event if a student, teacher, or staff member may have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s important to have a plan in place. Everyone should have emergency contact information handy (especially for students). Also, school administrators must have a plan in place in the event of an outbreak where a number of students, faculty, or staff may have been exposed as school may close as a result.
As the school session is slowly getting back into full swing, it’s important for administrators to make sure that everyone from the students, teachers, and parents are on the same page. Especially when COVID-19 remains a health concern all over the world. Schools are a place where outbreaks can happen if no safety plan is implemented.
Use the five steps above to ensure that your school stays safe and adheres to the CDC guidelines. The more proactive you can be to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in your school, the more peace of mind you’ll have.