In the midst of a global crisis, it is difficult to see a week into the future, but teachers, administrators, and parents are turning their attention to the fall. In the United States, most schools have been closed since mid-March. The 2020-2021 school year will bring a list of new challenges, from the academic challenges of school closing early last school year to maintaining a clean and safe environment for students, faculty, and staff.
The topic of reopening the schools in the fall demands more attention as other businesses and services open. The question on everyone’s mind: How can schools bring students back to in-person learning safely?
The CDC offers guidelines to in-person learning for grades K-12.
Promoting behaviors that reduce the spread
Schools should put some thought into a strategy for encouraging behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Staying home when appropriate
It seems like a given, but what constitutes absence as appropriate? When can you return to school or work? Will there be consequences for prolonged absence? Schools should provide staff and students guidelines on when to stay home and when they are cleared for return to avoid confusion. Schools should assess if virtual learning applies to students who will need to miss multiple school days due to illness or self-isolation. Consider doing away with attendance-based awards and accolades.
Not only should adults understand that hand hygiene is of the highest importance in reducing the spread of COVID-19, but children should also recognize the importance of proper hand hygiene. Schools should teach and enforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Schools should also provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not readily available. Hand sanitizing stations should be set up around the school, classrooms, and the entrance/exit to encourage frequent use.
Cloth face coverings
This is a tough one. It will be next to impossible to have young students wear cloth face covers all day while in school. Staff and faculty should wear face covers as feasible.
Maintaining healthy environments
Schools may consider implementing strategies to maintain a clean and healthy environment.
Cleaning and disinfecting
By now, the frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces is standard in most businesses and schools should be no exception. A cleaning schedule should be implemented to ensure the proper cleaning and disinfecting of all high touch and shared surfaces.
Support healthy hygiene behaviors by providing adequate supplies to students and staff. Necessary supplies include soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant spray or wipes, cloth face coverings (as feasible), and no-touch/foot-pedal trash cans. An important factor to keep in mind is the supply and demand issues surrounding these products and stockpile what you can to get through the school year.
Other safety measures could include discouraging shared objects, forming cohorts of students, and physical barriers (ex. Sneezeguards) where social distancing is not possible. See the full list of CDC guidelines for opening schools here.
Whatever the schools decide whether it be a hybrid model or full in-person classes, it’s time to prepare. As a parent, its important to provide your child (if age appropriate) with travel hand sanitizer or wipes and equip your home with effective disinfectants should an illness occur.
Products you can trust
The above measures only affect the safety of students and staff if the correct product is used. Due diligence has never been so necessary with the FDA recalling over 100 hand sanitizers for containing toxic chemicals.
A trusted USA Manufacturer for over 28 years
Safetec is dedicated to infection prevention. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Safetec has increased production of products that are either effective against the Novel Coronavirus or will help prevent the spread. Click Here to view our COVID-19 product page. Safetec also has a robust line of solidifiers and kits to prepare your facility for bodily fluid clean up and disposal.
A passion for effective, safe, and high-quality products has guided us in everything we do at Safetec. As a trusted US infection control and first aid OTC product manufacturer for over 28 years, Safetec strives to keep people safe from infectious disease. Our team follows exemplary quality control procedures when developing and manufacturing products, and complies with the FDA Code of Federal Regulations and EPA guidelines.