The pandemic is changing pretty much every aspect of the schools as we know them, all with safety against the coronavirus in mind. Some schools and educational centres allow to opt for remote-only learning, depending on the local situation. Parents need to check with their local school authorities for specific details, since many of them continue to shape plans. As they reopen, it is of the utmost importance that precautions are taken both inside and outside the school premises to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. The following lines try to support teachers, students, parents and schools with tips and information.

A key lesson learned during this COVID-19 pandemic is the important role teachers play in guaranteeing that learning continues. A lot depends on professors and teachers to ensure that kids are able to continue their education in a healthy and safe environment.

As an educator, understanding the facts will not only protect yourself but also the students. Be aware of false information and myths about the new coronavirus circulating that are feeding fear. Many students are returning to school from households where they heard fake information about the coronavirus. Teachers will need to be the ones who educate them on the facts.

How can parents help manage all this?

The role of parents might be even more important when the school decides to implement a remote-learning strategy. Childcare issues, job security and supporting their children in a virtual learning environment are some of the major concerns for most families during this difficult time. This is a new situation for everyone and there are no clear-cut answers for those issues.

Can schools prevent the spread of the new coronavirus?

As coronavirus evolves, the most important thing for educational centres to do is plan and prepare. Schools need to do the following when it comes to preparing:

  • Update, implement and review emergency plans in collaboration with the local authorities and health departments.
  • Develop information-sharing systems with local partners and parents.
  • Immediately isolate and test students with symptoms to quickly identify positive cases. Potential positive cases can be detected thanks to technology with the implementation of a temperature monitoring solution and through mobile apps developed to control the contacts with infected individuals, and through testing of close contacts of other positive cases.
  • Implement hand washing strategies, these strategies should include washing with soap and water for about twenty seconds. If this is not possible, hand sanitiser that contains at least sixty per cent alcohol should be used.
  • Routine cleanings need to be performed, including often-touched surfaces.

How can children best protect themselves?

The following are some common-sense precautions that kids can take that apply to various infectious diseases. The first thing kids should be doing now is acting in ways that will decrease the community transmission and of course following public health guidelines.

  • Minimise contact with kids or other individuals who are not in their household.
  • Wear face masks or coverings in close and public spaces.
  • Practice hand washing and good hand hygiene.
  • Encourage other kids and people around to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
  • Children need to start getting comfortable with what a safe distance looks like and feels like. It should not be one more thing that will feel disruptive when entering the school premises.

Understanding the new coronavirus, how it spreads and how we can protect actually ourselves is a very important first step in establishing school protocols and procedures. Children need to understand why these protocols are implemented in order for them to follow the guidelines and rules. We need to listen to their concerns and answer their questions. Discuss their reactions and explain that these are completely normal reactions to a unique and abnormal situation.

When learning about the facts, make sure to use information about the new coronavirus from reliable sources, for instance the health authorities in your region or country. By staying informed about COVID-19 and about the situation, and by following the recommendations of health specialists, we will be protecting our own wellbeing and those around us.

By Nat