As schools reopen, precautions must be taken both inside and beyond the classroom to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This article aims to support teachers with information and tips on:
A vital lesson learned throughout the pandemic is the important role teachers play in ensuring that learning continues. As schools reopen, a great deal will depend on teachers to ensure that kids will be able to continue their education in a secure and healthy environment; and make up for knowledge and skills that may have been lost.
As a teacher, understanding the facts won’t just protect yourself but also your students. Be conscious of fake information and harmful myths concerning COVID-19 circulating that are consuming anxiety and stigma.
Some of your students might be returning to school from households in which they heard false information about COVID-19. You will have to educate them about the facts.
Understanding COVID-19, how it spreads, and how we can protect ourselves and others is an important first step in establishing classroom procedures and protocols. Students need to understand what it’s to be able for them to follow the principles. Listen to their concerns and thoughts and answer their questions in an age-appropriate manner. Go over different responses they may experience and explain that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation.
Make sure to use Information Regarding COVID-19 from Reliable sources like UNICEF and WHO, as well as the health authorities in your own country. By staying informed about the situation and also after the recommendations of public health experts, we can guard our wellbeing and the people around us.
Physical Distancing at schools
When it comes to physical distancing, you must establish some classroom floor rules in line with the procedures based on your school’s administration, as well as the protocols created by your individual state’s Ministry of Health or local wellness bodies and authorities. Recommended measures include:
- Keep a distance of at least 1 meter between everyone present at school
- Increase desk spacing (at least 1 meter between desks), stagger recesses/breaks and lunch breaks (if challenging, 1 alternative is to get lunch at desks)
- Restrict the mixing of courses for school and after-school activities.
- Stagger the school day to vary the start and end times and avoid having all of the students and educators together at once
- Consider increasing the number of teachers, if possible, to allow for fewer students per classroom (if space is available)
- Advise against crowding during school pick-up or organize school select up/drop off times otherwise (based on age group) to reduce any large gatherings of children at a given time
- Use signs, ground markers, tape, obstacles, and other means to keep a 1-meter distance in aisles around entrances
- Move lessons outdoors or ventilate rooms as much as possible
To encourage your pupils to stick to the rules, it can be helpful to create a do’s and don’t list together. Develop a listing together around how students will greet each other; how desks will be arranged; physical distancing steps during lunch breaks.
Health and hand hygiene
Teachers have a critical role to play in ensuring students know the precautions they should take to safeguard themselves and others from COVID-19, and you must lead by example in the classroom.
- Handwashing is one of the easiest, more cost-efficient, and efficient methods of combating the spread of germs and maintaining staff and students healthy.
- Educate the five steps for handwashing
- Wet hands with secure, running water
- Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
- Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails – for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse thoroughly with running water
- Dry hands with a clean cloth or single-use towel.
If there’s restricted access to a sink, running water, or soap at the school, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Coldwater and warm water are equally good at killing germs and viruses — so long as you use soap!
Invite pupils to get in 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.
Pupils should always cough or sneeze into their elbow. But, if by accident they do so in/on their palms, instruct them to wash their hands or apply hand sanitizer. If pupils sneeze or cough into a tissue, make sure it is disposed of immediately and that they wash their hands.
Despite clean hands, encourage pupils to avoid touching their eyes, mouth, and nose.
Prepare and maintain handwashing stations with soap and water, and if possible, place alcohol-based hand sanitizers in every single classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets.
Identify some sensible steps/activities you can take to demonstrate decent hygiene practices for the students. Examples include:
- Developing a hand hygiene tune to sing together with your students
- Have students draw attention to posters for the classroom
- You can select a specific time throughout the day, such as before/after lunchtime for everyone to wash their hands/apply hand sanitizer
- Keep a points system in your classroom, providing points to students whenever they wash their hands or employ sanitizer
- Have students develop a public service announcement on hand hygiene and set these posters/ statements through the classroom or college in highly visible areas
Cleaning and disinfecting
Information on how to maintain the cleanliness and sanitization of your classroom. You can also hire a professional cleaning and disinfecting services like Janitorial Services Frisco.
Daily cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects which are touched frequently, like 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 filled with body fluids or blood, use gloves, and other regular precautions to prevent coming into contact with the fluid. Eliminate the spill, then clean and disinfect the surface.
Tips for staff using cleaning material
- Ensure you know all education labels and Know safe and proper usage
- Follow the instructions on the labels
- Cleaning products and disinfectants regularly involve the use of gloves or eye protection.
- Do not mixture cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels indicate it is safe to do so.
- Diluted household bleach alternatives may also be used if appropriate to the surface
- Check the label to see if your bleach is meant for disinfection and has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 0.5%. Ensure the item is not past its expiry date.
- Household bleach will probably be effective against Coronaviruses when properly diluted
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and suitable venting. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser
- Leave alternatives on the surface for at least 1 minute.
- Come up with a few creative and fun ideas and rules with your students for averting high-risk and high-touch areas in their school/classroom.
- Produce some rules collectively as a group and write these down on a flipchart paper that you could later hang up in the classroom
- Create fun reminders/posters that can be hung in the hallways to remind others to stick to the sanitation rules.
Actions to consider if one of your students seems 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
- Designate a particular area in the school as a waiting room where children can wait. Ideally, this chamber should be well-ventilated. If there are school nurses available, it is strongly recommended they are designated staff in this waiting area. If students feel sick or show symptoms of COVID-19, then they should wait at the designated room to be chosen with their parents/caregiver. Afterward, the room should be cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized
- Provide the sick student using a medical mask should available
- Take daily screening to body modification, and history of fever or feeling feverish at the past 24 hours, on entrance into the building for all employees, students and visitors to identify persons that are ill
- Students/ staff might need to be known directly to a health facility, depending on the situation/ context, or shipped home
- Encourage all students to remain home and self-isolate should they feel sick
- Develop a standard of operation in case temperature screening is required
- Share procedures with students and parents 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 a sign they are experiencing multisystem inflammatory syndrome and should seek medical attention immediately.
Make your disease control plan. What actionable steps do you take if a pupil reports feeling sick during the school day? Consider all possible actions you can choose from the minute they inform you.