There is no questioning that the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis is drastically changing the nation’s educational system. With most school districts on summer break, now is the time to plan ahead for the fall and what returning to the classroom may look like for millions of students and educators. Regardless of if you are an educational administrator, a teacher, or simply a parent, here are five ways that you can keep your students healthy in the midst of a global pandemic.
Encourage Facial Coverings
The science is clear that facial coverings can help to reduce the spread of the virus, especially in crowded indoor areas such as schools. While it may not be possible to require that all students wear masks, even some participants will be instrumental in reducing the risk. Be sure to have students experiment with a variety of mask styles prior to school starting so that they can find the ones that are most comfortable for them. You also need to instruct students on how to properly put on and take off the mask so that they do not inadvertently spread germs in the process.
Conduct Daily Temperature Checks
One of the best ways to catch the virus before it spreads to others in the school community is to conduct daily temperature checks. Many schools that have already resumed in other areas of the world are setting up temperature checkpoints for students to pass through prior to entering the school. If the thermometer reading is over 100 degrees, the student is told to return home and quarantine for a designated period of time.
Using a touchless thermometer will ensure the highest level of safety. By catching these possibly contagious students before they enter the school, you will guard the safety of the other individuals on the grounds.
Use Professional Disinfecting Solutions
As schools begin to reopen, keeping the buildings and grounds clean will be of paramount importance. Encourage your school district to invest their resources into the most modern and hygienic cleaning solutions and processes as possible. For example, PURTABS Disinfecting Tablets readily dissolve in water and have been proven to kill the COVID-19 virus on contact. This system is safer than bleach while providing the same level of virus protection on nearly any surface.
Practice Social Distancing
Social distancing is a phrase that most people were not familiar with prior to 2020. However, now everyone understands the importance of staying at least six feet apart from others to help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Practicing social distancing in a school setting will be challenging. School districts are going to need to be creative about staggering schedules or setting up classrooms in a way that allows for the proper distance to be created. Some districts are exploring the use of a hybrid model so that some students will be learning at home remotely while others are onsite at the school.
At the secondary school level, passing periods may also need to be staggered so that hallways do not become congested. Lunchtime will prove to be an issue, requiring that schools get creative about how to feed the students while still adhering to social distancing protocols.
Mandate Good Hygiene
All of the above efforts will not mean a thing if students are not practicing good hygiene. Setting up touchless hand sanitizing stations throughout the school and encouraging their regular use may go a long way in helping to stop the spread of the virus. It is particularly important to have these stations positioned at the entrance of the school and where they can be used prior to eating.
Teachers and administrators need to be diligent about reminding students to wash their hands throughout the day. You may also consider instituting some type of reward system to encourage students to remember to use the handwashing stations.
While it may seem like a daunting challenge, it is important to remember that most schools did a remarkable job adapting to the onset of the pandemic. With a few months to plan ahead and make backup plans, it is possible for students to attend school and remain healthy as the pandemic rages on.