When schools are back – albeit staggered over the rest of the year – it is critical that school management teams have plans in place to keep their staff and learners safe from the coronavirus.
Schools across the country have varying degrees of access to proper sanitation and other assets needed to protect learners. It might certainly be a daunting prospect for any school principal to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus if, for example, the school does not even have access to running water.
Corder says there are thankfully basic safety measures that can be implemented almost anywhere, which she recommends.
The essential first step she says is to stick to the basics. “This being hand hygiene, correct mask usage, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing.” When it comes to smaller children, it might be less easy to remind them to not share their lunch, stationery or even climbing structures, playgrounds swings and slides.”
Unfortunately, the above is just the basics and schools are going to need to develop a checklist that they can abide by on a daily basis.
General engineering and administrative measures need to be implemented, to ensure that all classrooms have proper ventilation e.g. cleaning of air-conditioners with correct filter installed beforehand, or during school hours all windows are opened. All schools must have a dedicated isolation room; this is needed should a pupil or staff member show any symptoms of Covid-19.
“I strongly recommend that all staff and teachers be put through the correct training to make sure they understand and properly implement health measures. They will need to be intimately familiar with the basics such as the difference between cleaning and disinfecting a surface, as well as the safe disposing of any potentially hazardous medical waste,” adds Corder.
But there is also a responsibility on all parents and caregivers to ensure students are fully prepared, by creating a “Covid-19 Back to School Pack”. The use of a big sized pencil box is perfect to pack two clean masks, pack of wet wipes and hand sanitizer. It’s also advised that the learners take their own water bottles so as to not fill them at the school or use public water taps, and especially to not drink directly from the mouthpiece of a tap.
Remember the three best cleaning practices:
Prepare for cleaning and disinfecting.
- Correct PPE for cleaning
- Use all chemicals correctly
- Cleaning equipment must be clean e.g. mop sleeves must be soaked in cleaning solution before being used.
- Disinfectants should be freshly prepared and NRCS registered.
Do the Job.
- Top to bottom from clean to dirty.
- For normal cleaning use the spray and wipe method.
- And colour code all cleaning materials to prevent cross contamination.
End of Task
- Dispose of dirty water and waste according to safe procedures.
- Wash and dry all equipment before storing it in a clean space.
- Dispose of all PPE wear before washing up.
“If headmasters or members of staff need any assistance or have any questions about measures that are planned for a school, they must get in touch with the Departments of Health or Education immediately. Proper disinfection and preparation must be completed, before learners return,” says Corder.