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Limiting COVID-19 transmission in Schools

Many of you have been asking about schools and are worried about your kids or are a teacher and you’re worried about your health and your family’s and your student's health given the circumstances.

In my personal opinion, schools should have been closed weeks ago, and if a household has a parent or a guardian (who is not elderly or has chronic conditions) then it is preferable if the kids stay home and run through some online learning instead.

From an infection control perspective, I have put together a list of a few things that you as parents and teachers can do to keep your kids and their carers/educators safe from infection. These tips have been partly adapted from Singapore’s response to the virus (they have done a really good job and curbed infections whilst maintaining most schools open) and common infection control practices that we implement in the field:

I know and completely understand that some of these measures are very difficult and near impossible to enact, especially in certain school settings with little resources. However the more of the below you can enact, the better.

For Schools and Teachers:

1. Implement a daily temperature check of all students as they enter the school premises. If any student has a temperature 38 degrees Celsius or above, they should have their parents contacted and sent home immediately.

2. Conduct a daily symptoms check on all students as they enter the school premises. If any student has any flu like symptoms including but not limited to: Cough and/or a runny nose should have their parents contacted immediately and the child should be sent home.

3. All staff and students are required to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds upon entering the school premises.

4. Teachers should monitor their students for any symptoms that may develop during the day

5. If a student says they are unwell, the parents of the child should be contacted immediately and the child should be sent home to seek medical help

(all above students who have been sent home can only return to school once they are completely recovered)

6. Schools should teach students how to cough/sneeze into their elbow crease and maintain proper hand hygiene to limit infection.

7. Schools should implement intensified and more frequent cleaning routines and environmental hygiene practices on a daily basis – perhaps a thorough clean of the classroom/common areas after every school day at the least.

8. Avoid students sharing utensils and other handheld items with each other and with their teachers.

9. Implement staggered recess and lunchtimes to prevent mass groupings and large numbers of children together.

10. Suspension of large groups and communal activities such as assemblies, camps, and mass celebrations. This includes inter-school activities too

11. If possible for teachers – wear gloves and possibly a mask during the day, or sanitize your hands frequently. I know the studies are saying that masks don't do much, but they actually do. They're good at catching cough droplets and they also act as a good reminder to the kids of the severity of the situation.

12. For students who have been sent home, schools should arrange some distance/ learning from home activities for these students so that they can keep up with their education during these difficult times.

For parents:

1. If your child shows any symptoms no matter how mild, they should not be sent to school.

2. If the school has run out of soap, please provide your child with a bar of soap to take with them to school so that they can wash their hands.

3. Ensure that you have your phone on you at all times, in the event that you need to be reached by the school.

4. If you have any flu-like symptoms, no matter how mild, or if you have tested positive for COVID-19, do not send your kids to school.

#staysafe #stayhealthy #stayhome #covid19 #infectiousdiseases #auspol #coronavirus #tips

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