COVID-19 is a disease spread through a strain of corona virus, a part of the same family of (SARS) Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and has caused pandemic all around the world. This strain of virus has resulted in a number of deaths across the globe. It is mainly spread through human contact- when an infected person coughs or sneezes, the mucus containing the virus gets suspended in the air thus affecting anyone inhaling it. To avoid this, many nations worldwide have resorted to complete lockdowns to avoid the spread of disease. Schools, offices, for a matter of fact entire nations have come to a halt.
Now, even if this strain of virus vanishes there are chances that it may revive back. Hence, it is necessary to prevent and control the spread of this virus. Thus, it definitely becomes mandatory for schools to undertake various actions and propagate critical preventive messages to control COVID-19. This disease gets duplicated in crowds and can easily spread among larger populations in a very short period of time. Hence, protection of children and educational facilities becomes very important. School children should be educated on this topic and made to practice the preventive measures. It will not only help in diminishing their doubts and fears but will also make them act as productive agents in transmission of Covid-19 related information in their families, as well the community.
It is of utmost importance to follow prevention and control measures in school to avoid further spread of the virus as well as resist and restrict the entry of virus through students or staff already exposed to it.
Key messages and actions adopted in schools-
1.Schools should follow the basic rules of sanitation and promote regular hand-washing with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer. Maintain soap, water, sanitizer, etc, i.e. handwashing facilities wherever possible. There should be proper systematic waste management to avoid spread of the disease through environmental factors.
2.Every school should practice ‘social distancing’ and limit the classrooms to a certain number of students. Try to keep the student's desk at least one metre apart and avoid unnecessary contact. It is always better to be careful and prevent a complex situation beforehand. Also, infected students and staff should not be allowed in school. Alternate measures can be taken from them such as online classes, study from home, assigning teachers for remote study, and other educational strategies, etc.
3.Virus prevention measures can be incorporated with the daily assignments and activities for the students to create an interest among them. It will not only help in communication of measures to be taken but will also keep them informed.
4.Schools should focus on imparting proper and factual information about COVID-19 and its effect to the staff and its students, also focussing on the measures to avoid the virus. Information should be updated regularly and should be accurate to avoid spread of misleading and false data.
5.All the school operations should be performed keeping in mind the limitations that should be followed because of the corona virus. Schools should not encourage assemblies, sport games, meetings, extra-curricular events that leads to formation of crowd.
6.It is also necessary to wash, sanitize and disinfect the entire school premises including each classroom and grounds every day. There should be thorough cleaning of each classroom as it consists of many surfaces touched by many people. Also, trash should be removed and disposed of regularly.
7.Teachers should try to inculcate good respiratory hygiene practices among the students through various means like speeches, debates, posters, etc. The school notice board can be utilized to promote safe hygiene as well as other important factors related to corona virus.
8.Schools should be prepared with facilities if any emergency situation arises. They should have a list of emergency contacts as well as a through planned procedure with local health authorities and health care centres. This should be shared among the students, parents and the staff. If in case any staff or student shows symptoms related to Covid-19 they should be immediately sent to health cares or their home, depending on the situation. Everything should be planned to the core to avoid complications.
9.Every school has a PTA (parents-teachers association) whose motive is to create a productive engagement between the both. These associations should be used as a medium to inform parents about the steps that should be taken from their end. They should be informed and alerted to not send the child to the school if anyone at home is infected or showing signs of corona virus
10.Monitor every child’s attendance with respect to the sick leaves in case of respiratory illness. It may show if any student is consistently absent indicating some problems and accordingly health care centres can be informed.
11.It is obvious that some students are prone to experience stress, anxiety or depression during such critical times. Schools should encourage the students to ask questions, doubts and their concerns related to the issue and make sure that the student’s minds are at comfort by giving them a reliable answer. It is obvious that they might act weird to the happenings around. Try and explain to them about what is going on in a polite, friendly manner to avoid confusion and reassure them.