As schools and colleges around the UK reopen, the risk of COVID-19 spread has increased post lockdown. Therefore, they are required to strictly follow guidelines issued by the government to ensure the safety of their students and staff.
Therefore, we’ve put together a guide of 10 ways you can prevent the spread of COVID in schools and colleges. Check them out!
Minimising The Risk
Now schools and colleges have reopened COVID-19 secure measures will remain in place to reduce the risk of any transmission. Schools, in particular, are being asked to keep children in smaller classes or ‘bubbles’. For colleges, they’re encouraging them to keep their distance (1-2 metres) where possible. If anyone who recently contracted the virus or came in contact with an infected person is found, typically students are sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. Where there are two or more confirmed cases in a two-week period, a larger number of children or students are required to self-isolate as an additional measure. Where you can, offer remote education to pupils who are isolating.
It’s important to make sure that official guidelines are sent across the students, faculty, and staff so that everyone is aware of what to do. All staff, pupils and their families will continue to have access to testing if they develop Covid-19 symptoms, and schools will be provided with easy to use home testing kits for children and staff who would otherwise be unable to get a test.
Alongside, social distancing and other precautionary measures, regular cleaning and hand washing is required. Where young children are concerned, it’s important to remind them to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and supervision may be required, especially when it comes to using hand sanitiser.
Schools and sixth-form colleges should provide hand wash and soaps at handwashing stations and sanitiser should be readily available in all classrooms and corridors.
Encourage hygienic practices like covering coughs and sneezes with tissues such as the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach. As a result, it’s important for schools and colleges to provide enough bins and tissues for learners and staff to follow this properly. Schools will be provided with an emergency supply of PPE if a child were to become symptomatic.
Public Health England and the DFE have not recommended the use of PPE and face coverings by staff in schools and colleges. The advice is to follow the other steps within the article.
It can be difficult, though, to get children to stay distance from each other, particularly in primary schools and nurseries.
If adequate distancing is not possible in a classroom, you can always look into glass or perspex protective screens throughout the classroom, to separate students and create a class ‘bubble’ where there isn’t sufficient classroom space. That being said if pupils and staff wish to wear a mask to protect themselves, they are able to do so.
PPE including masks, gloves, aprons and sneeze guards will be available to all schools in the event that any coronavirus symptoms occur.
Posters And Signs Displaying Safety Measures
So that everyone is on board, it may be worthwhile creating boards, posters and highlighting areas on the floor to demonstrate the guidelines and highlight what 1 metre looks like to children and students.
Display signs and posters that promote health safety and preventive measures, such as hand washing and to reiterate the importance of social distancing.
It’s also worth emailing out to parents what the guidelines are, so they can be prepared before dropping their kids off at school.
Cleaning And Disinfection
All your staff should be equipped with guidance on cleaning facilities and safe food preparation practices before opening. Frequent disinfection of regularly touched surfaces and objects can be key in minimising the risk.
In between classes, break times, lunch time etc. surfaces, handles and other touchable areas should be cleaned and disinfected. Putting in place a cleaning schedule can be really helpful so that more frequent cleaning is completed and frequently touched surfaces are cleaned more often.
Outdoor playground equipment should also be frequently cleaned in between uses.
Staggering Start And Close Of The Day
Where you can, it might be worth staggering the start and end times between year groups to reduce volumes of children at the entrance gates. It’s highly recommended to encourage parents to have their child avoid travel on coaches, buses or public transport where possible to avoid an influx of students at one time.
Schools can also use signage to guide parents and carers about where to drop off and pick up their children.
Lunchtime And Break Time Arrangements
It’s also worth considering working with catering suppliers and kitchen employees with regards to lunchtime arrangements.
Try to work out breaks or play times so only one group of small children is in the same play area at one time and that staff remain a safe distance from each other too during breaks.
Plans will also need to be in place to ensure food supplies are in place for staggered lunchtimes and, unless they’re under the free school meal policy, encourage parents to provide a home-made packed lunch.
Consider hiring interior fit out contractors to provide guidance on social/physical distancing. They may review the layout of your classrooms, corridors and social spaces and see if there are ways they can make it safer. It may be possible to rearrange seating and desks so that they are at least 2 metres apart and to paint a 2 metre circle around each seating spot so kids can easily identify where they’re supposed to be.
Where classrooms cannot be laid out effectively, or they are just simply too small, you can look to reduce the number of pupils in each room. If that’s not possible, then you can look into Perspex protective screen to separate each desk or areas of the classroom.
Schools with the capability to do so should take the necessary steps to limit interaction, sharing of classrooms and communal areas as much as they can. Remember, when visits happen for those outside the school, it’s important to collect details on record to assist the government’s Test, Trace and Protection strategy.
As always, staff and pupils should maintain the social distancing rules as much as possible.
Teachers should also try to monitor kids, especially the younger ones, so they don’t get too close to each other.
As we’ve suggested previously, it’s worth looking into marking up corridors and shared spaces, as well as in the classroom. It might also be worth either holding the school in shifts, or moving classes to temporary spaces or even outdoors, where possible.
Advise The Children And Parents
Most importantly, your children and students should be aware of how they can keep themselves safe. Keep them informed, and provide them with learning guides so that they know the measures they need to follow.
Resources brought into school each day should be kept to a minimum. This can include lunch boxes, bags, hats, coats, stationary, mobile phones etc. It’s also recommended that pencils, pens are used individually, but games and books can be shared as long as they are cleaned frequently.
If a case of COVID-19 is suspected, gloves, aprons and surgical masks should be worn, along with eye protection (sneeze guard) if there is a risk of splashing in the eyes. So be aware of the risks and always have equipment on hand.
The COVID-19 pandemic is, unfortunately, still around. Which is why it’s important for schools and colleges to take strict safety measures to ensure the safety of their staff and students.
Bryony Shaw is the marketing executive at Spectrum Interior, a leading commercial refurbishment company offering interior fit-out, washroom fit-out and changing room benches in the UK. Her aim in life is to transform as many interior environments as possible into highly beautiful and functional spaces and make all incumbent dysfunctional eyesores a thing of the past. Synchronising the marketing, sales, purchasing and project management teams, she likes to listen to the needs concerning absolutely anything interior.