One of the most significant issues that parents and children faced when the pandemic began was the inability of children to attend school. In-person learning is essential in the development of children and is also beneficial to their learning process. Thankfully, schools will be allowed to open in the Fall of 2021 so that students can receive the learning that is needed. Although schools will be opening, the Covid-19 is still a threat in the world we live in. Precautions need to be taken, and guidelines must be followed to ensure that students, staff, and their families remain safe.
Guidelines to Follow in Schools
With students going back to school, they will be in close contact with other students and staff. With close contact happening in classrooms, cafeterias, and playgrounds, teachers and staff need to know the proper guidelines for keeping themselves and their students safe.
- Students should wear masks at all points throughout the day. They should be encouraged to wear their masks properly and to avoid touching the mask or their face.
- Students should try to social distance themselves as much as possible. The CDC recommends 3 feet in between each person. We are all aware that students will be near each other in classrooms and other areas of the school. Staff should adhere to the same social distancing guidelines as students.
- When social distancing is not possible throughout the day, screening should ensure students and staff are not infected with the virus.
- Staff and students should be practicing handwashing procedures throughout the school day. All students should be taught the proper way to wash their hands and then be encouraged to sanitize them, as well.
- Teachers and staff should disinfect and wipe down all surfaces to ensure that the virus is not spreading through contact from student to student. Surfaces can include desks, tables, doorknobs, and any other surface used consistently.
- Hand Sanitizer should be available in classrooms and throughout the school to be accessible to students and staff.
- Students and staff should avoid attending school if they are sick and showing symptoms.
- Children who are under 12 years old are not allowed to receive the vaccine at this time. Therefore, schools should layer other guidelines to ensure transmission does not occur.
The number one precaution that needs to be encouraged is the use of masks by staff and children. Masks are the first defense against the respiratory droplets released into the air by infected individuals. Children will not understand why they must wear masks. Teachers and staff should teach children the importance of wearing their masks and why it is so important. Parents should also be encouraging the use of masks with their children at home. The CDC lists several guidelines that can be followed to help reduce the transmission of the virus.
- Children under the age of 2 are not permitted to wear a mask.
- Children should be given masks that are made for them. Putting an adult mask on a child will not help in the prevention of spreading the virus. A mask that fits loosely to the face will allow respiratory droplets to enter and infect the child.
- Children should be encouraged not to touch their masks or trade masks with other students. The only way we can prevent this from happening is by keeping a close eye on students and reinforcing masks to the students.
- Masks should be made of breathable material and cover the lower part of the face.
- Cloth masks should be made from a tightly woven material that light does not pass through. If you are using a loosely woven fabric, make sure they are made with two or three layers.
Sanitizing and Disinfecting
Behind mask implementation, sanitizing, and disinfecting is the second most important guideline to follow when social distancing has proven to be complicated. All surfaces should be wiped down, sanitized, and disinfected after using a student or staff. It has been proven most effective to create a schedule for sanitizing and disinfecting to ensure that it is always done and never forgotten. Keep in mind the surfaces that are typically not thought of when cleaning. These surfaces can include handrails, pencil sharpeners, classroom tools, and much more.
Keeping the transmission rates low this Fall is the key to keeping schools open. If case counts go up, we risk the closing of schools again. Shutting down schools takes away from the quality of learning received by students. We should all work together to ensure that our students get the learning they deserve in the safest environment possible.