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Classroom precautions during COVID-19

Classroom precautions during COVID-19

Tips for teachers to protect themselves and their students.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we have collated some resources from UNICEF, giving advice as to how schools can keep staff safe as well as students.

As schools will remain open for the foreseeable future, it’s important that precautions are taken both inside and outside the classroom to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A key lesson learned during the pandemic is the important role teachers play in ensuring that learning continues. Many depend on teachers to ensure that children will be able to continue their education in a safe and healthy environment; and make up for knowledge and skills that may have been lost.

As a teacher, knowing the facts will not only protect yourself but also your students. Be aware of fake information and dangerous myths about COVID-19 circulating that are feeding fear and stigma. Understanding COVID-19, how it spreads and how we can protect ourselves and others is an important first step in establishing classroom procedures and protocols. Students need to understand what it is in order for them to follow the rules. Listen to their concerns and ideas and answer their questions in an age-appropriate manner.

Discuss the different reactions they may experience and explain that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation. Make sure to use information about COVID-19 from reliable sources such as UNICEF and WHO, as well as the UK health authorities. By staying informed about the situation and following the recommendations of public health experts, we can protect our own wellbeing and those around us.

Physical distancing at schools

When it comes to social distancing, it is important that you establish some classroom ground rules in accordance with the procedures established by your school’s administration.

Recommended measures include:

·        Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre between everyone present at school

·        Increase desk spacing (at least 1 metre between desks), stagger breaks and lunch breaks (if difficult, one alternative is to have lunch at desks)

·        Limit the mixing of classes for school and after-school activities. For example, students in a class will stay in one classroom throughout the day, while teachers move between classrooms; or classes could use different entrances, if available, or establish an order for each class to enter and leave the building/classroom

·        Stagger the school day to vary the start and end times and avoid having all the students and teachers together at once

·        Consider increasing the number of teachers, if possible, to allow for fewer students per classroom (if space is available)

·        Advise against crowding during school pick-up and, if possible, avoid pick up by older family members (i.e. grandparents)

·        Arrange school pick up/drop off times differently (according to age group) to decrease any large gatherings of children at a given time

·        Use signs, ground markings, tape, barriers and other means to maintain 1 metre distance in queues around entrances

·        Discuss how to manage physical education and sports lessons

·        Move lessons outdoors or ventilate rooms as much as possible

·        Encourage students not to gather and socialise in big groups upon leaving school grounds

 

To encourage your students to stick to the rules, it can be helpful to create a dos and don’ts list with them. Develop a list together around how students will greet each other; how desks will be arranged; physical distancing measures during lunch breaks (who they will sit with, play with during breaks, how they can schedule time with all of their friends across the week).

Teachers have a critical role to play in ensuring students understand the precautions they should take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, and it is important you lead by example in the classroom. Handwashing is one of easiest, more cost efficient and effective ways of combating the spread of germs and keeping students and staff healthy.

Encourage students to get into the practice of regularly washing their hands and/or applying hand sanitisers at key moments, such as; entering and leaving the classroom, touching surfaces, learning materials, books, and after using a tissue to blow their nose.

If wearing fabric masks is recommended in your school, then make sure your students are familiar with when they should wear masks and any related school policies, such as how to dispose of used masks safely to avoid the risk of contaminated masks in classrooms and playgrounds.

If you have students with disabilities, such as hearing loss or auditory problems in your class, then consider how these children may miss learning opportunities because of the degraded speech signal stemming from mask wearing, the elimination of lipreading and speaker expressions and physical distancing. Adapted masks to allow lipreading (e.g. clear masks) or use of face shields may be explored as an alternative to fabric masks.

Cleaning and disinfecting

Daily cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, taps, phones and toys. Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface.

 

Actions to take if one of your students appears to be sick

Identifying COVID-19 symptoms

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, confusion, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and skin rashes.

School preparations and what to do if one of your students displays any of the symptoms

·        Designate a specific area in the school (i.e. near the entrance) as a waiting room where children can wait. Ideally, this room should be well-ventilated. If there are school nurses available, it is recommended that they are designated staff in this waiting area. If students feel ill and/or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they should wait in the designated room to be picked up by their parents/caregiver. Afterwards, the room should be cleaned, disinfected and sanitised

·        Provide the sick student with a medical mask if available

·        Consider daily screening for body temperature, and history of fever or feeling feverish in the previous 24 hours, on entry into the building for all staff, students and visitors to identify persons who are sick

·        Ensure a procedure for separating sick students and staff from those who are well – without creating stigma – and a process for informing parents, and consulting with health care providers/ health authorities wherever possible

·        Students/ staff may need to be referred directly to a health facility, depending on the situation/ context, or sent home

·        Encourage all students to stay home and self-isolate should they feel ill

·        Develop a standard of operation if temperature screening is required Share procedures with parents and students ahead of time

 

As always, we are here to support you through the COVID-19 pandemic. We have implemented a number of additional features to limit contact in the classroom.

AB Tutor allows live screen sharing as well as file sharing, and the ability to share lesson plans, without the need for giving out paper handouts.

 

 

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