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Back to School: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Prevent COVID-19 Transmission

Posted in Medshield Medical Scheme   |   June 8th, 2020

After much back-and-forth, the Department of Basic Education has announced that South African schools will reopen for all grade 7 and 12 pupils on Monday, 8 June 2020. As expected, many parents, teachers and childcare providers have a fair amount of anxiety and stress over the safety of the school environment for themselves and most importantly, their children, from COVID-19 infection.

Since the outbreak, parents have done a fantastic job in educating young people on the novel Coronavirus; what it is, how it spreads, what it can do and how to reduce the chances of getting infected. But kids will be kids, and their bursting excitement over being reunited with classmates and friends may cause them to temporarily forget what mom and dad said about hygiene, safety and social distancing. During this transition back, schools need to be adequately prepared and take the necessary health precautions to ensure that everyone, especially learners, on the school campus remain safe and germ-free at all times.

Before School: COVID-19 Safety Precautions for Parents:

• If your child is feeling ill, keep them at home
• Remind your children to wash their hands with soap for 20 minutes
• Provide a clean hand towel for your child to dry their hands and tell them not to share it with friends
• Remind your children not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth, especially if their hands have not been properly disinfected
• If possible, supply your child with a mini bottle of 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser and teach them when and how to use it
• Provide 2 face masks: One to be worn over their nose and mouth, and one in case the other gets lost
• Stress the importance of coughing and sneezing into a flexed elbow or tissue
• Remind kids not to touch their friends in any way, especially when playing i.e. no hugs, no handshakes, no physical contact
• Ensure that all stationery is packed into their bag so that your child does not borrow from another learner. Urge your child not to lend their stationery or equipment to another student.

During School: COVID-19 Safety Measures for Teachers and School Administrators:

• If teachers or other staff are sick, they should not come to school
• Check staff and student temperatures where possible
• If a teacher suspects that a student is unwell, they are to report it to the principal and contact a parent immediately
• Enforce frequent hand washing for 20 seconds with clean water and soap
• Provide an alcohol-based rub or hand sanitiser in each classroom, at entrances and exits, near lunchrooms, libraries, media centres and toilets
• Clean and disinfect school buildings, classrooms and water and sanitation facilities at least once a day, particularly surfaces that are touched by many people such as railings, desks, equipment, door and window handles, toys, and teaching and learning aids
• Open all windows for good airflow and ventilation
• Where possible, create space for children’s desks to be at least one metre apart
• Encourage learners to ask questions and express their concerns about COVID-19
• Ensure that all trash is removed daily and disposed of safely
• Continuous learning: Use creative exercises to show students how germs are spread. E.g. Mix food colouring and water into a spray bottle and spray over a piece of white paper to show how far droplets from sneezing and coughing can travel
• In cases of student absenteeism due to COVID-19 infection, provide parents with lesson/homework packs to reduce interruptions to the student’s academic studies

While these safety measures can reduce viral spread, continuity and vigilance are important to ensure ongoing safety of children, school personnel and families. The road to flattening the curve isn’t easy, but the prize; students learning and a virus in retreat is worth the effort.

Familiarise yourself and children with the below Infographic about the Safety measures when schools reopen.

Infographic courtesy of SABC NEWS

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