Prolonged school closures during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may cause academic achievements to be reversed, reducing children’s educational and vocational possibilities as well as their social and emotional relationships and development. The longer a pupil is absent from school, the higher the risk of dropping out.
Furthermore, pupils who are not in school – particularly girls – are at a higher risk of being vulnerable due to various reasons. Furthermore, prolonged school closures impair and impede the delivery of key school-based services such as school feeding and nutrition programs, immunization, and mental health and psychosocial assistance. As the COVID-19 issue drags on, it’s more important than ever to make sure that those affected have the tools and resources they need to deal with their changing local conditions.
Checklist for Supporting School Re-Opening
The checklist is structured around protective measures connected to COVID-19-related WHO guidelines and is aligned with and builds on current COVID-19-related WHO guidelines.
1. Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
3) Mask use in schools
4) Environmental cleaning and ventilation
5)Following procedures for isolating all those experiencing symptoms.
The time and technique to reopen a school after it has been closed are both complex and delicate; it should be guided by data and safety measures in place, as well as student, parent, caregiver, and teacher concerns.
The active involvement of concerned stakeholders – such as students, parents, and caregivers – in decisions that affect their lives, families, safety, and education has been shown to improve compliance with public health policies. Students may be powerful allies in bolstering initiatives and amplifying or reinforcing messages.
The checklist includes critical steps for restarting schools more safely and preparing for any COVID-19 resurgences. These measures, which are mutually beneficial and need timely coordination at all levels, divide the duties of decision-makers and stakeholders at the national, subnational, and school levels.
School-based initiatives and Role of Teachers
Co-design and participative approaches should be used by school administrations to undertake actions. The following steps should be implemented based on the viability and unique circumstances of each institution.
Create a school support team (SST) that is suitable for the local context – for example, one that includes teachers, school officials, students, and parents/caregivers —to assess the feasibility of implementing protective measures before school reopening based on national and subnational/local authorities’ recommendations. Measures could include, for example:
Analyzing the capacity of the school grounds to maintain a distance of at least 1 meter:
1. outside classrooms for kids (of all ages) and personnel; and
2. within classrooms, depending on age and COVID-19 transmission intensity in the area
3. Evaluating the availability and suitability of current handwashing facilities, taking into account social, economic, and cultural contexts;
4. Evaluating the needs of students with health issues and special needs
A.to avoid mixing pupils of different ages and classes
B. to reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of students and staff who interact with one another to those in their respective groups/years
C.Timetable expansion, with some students and teachers attending in the morning and others in the afternoon or evening, could be one option.
3. The purpose of the SST is to
A. Assess the feasibility of implementing physical distance in and outside of classrooms
B. Assess the feasibility of implementing physical distancing in and outside of classrooms. If you can’t avoid going to these sites, make sure you wear masks.
4. Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are promoted by the SST. This includes locating hand hygiene equipment at school and classroom entrances, on all floors, and in restroom and canteen facilities, as well as developing hand hygiene schedules. To fill existing gaps, install additional handwashing facilities where possible.
5. The SST will encourage students, teachers, and school staff to wear masks under national and local mask use guidelines, including by age and especially where physical separation is impossible.
6. Administrators and teachers should use natural ventilation in classrooms, canteens, and other areas to provide appropriate ventilation.
7. Through communication materials such as notes, posters, and flyers, the SST will generate and disseminate recommendations on protection measures.
8. Water and sanitation facilities, as well as frequently touched surfaces, should be given special attention (e,g Seats, lunch tables, sports equipment, doors, window knobs, light switches, toys, teaching and learning materials, and play equipment are just a few examples).
9. To avoid stockouts, the SST must provide enough and sufficient supply of soap, hand sanitizer, and masks.
10. The SST will undertake daily checks to ensure that the measures are being followed.
11. Increase staff and student understanding of the need to self-reporting any symptoms.
When a case is discovered at the school, the following procedures should be followed:
> When the first confirmed COVID-19 case was detected in at least one individual who attended or worked at the school during the contagious period, a representative from the school will be invited to investigate. Under national public health guidelines, cases should be isolated and contacts quarantined.
> The school should give the investigation team a list of all pupils (by grade, class, group activities) and staff (teachers, medical, administrative, and other). For kids designated as close or casual school contacts, class planning should be offered.
> All information submitted to the investigation team, whether by the school or any of the individuals involved, must be kept secure and kept confidential at all times.
> Working with the public health authorities, an investigation team will contact all known close and casual school contacts of a primary case(s) identified by the school and invite them to take part in the inquiry.
> Any indications or symptoms consistent with SARS-CoV-2 infection should be reported to the appropriate health authorities, under local contact tracing and management protocols.
> Any contact with clinical symptoms within 14 days of the primary case(s) should be treated as a suspected case and managed according to national/local case management standards.
> SARS-CoV-2 infected contacts should be classed as cases and followed up as cases.
12. For children, teachers, and school employees with symptoms, a policy of “staying at home if unwell” is enforced, and school sick leave policies are amended accordingly.
13. School administration should notify and update students, staff, and parents about current measures that are being implemented in response to the changing situation.
14. Set up training sessions on distance learning, safety and cleaning, and disease outbreak prevention, preparedness, and response measures with the school administration.
15. For school personnel and teachers to deliver (culturally sensitive and age-appropriate) messages, activities, and lessons to prevent and manage disease outbreaks in schools, school administration should provide training and learning materials/platforms.