Proper measures to take for reopening the schools
Reopening the schools is now a common demand of the time. Many parliamentarians, intellectuals, teachers, guardians and students of our country also recommend reopening the school as soon as possible. Therefore the government has decided to reopen the educational institution in this February.
As the schools are to be resumed soon, every authority has to take some measures to assure the parents about their children's smooth life in the school premises. The measures are as follows:
1. The school authority has to think of the matter of their preparation; whether they are ready to reopen the school immediately just after the declaration of the government or they need to wait for more other days. Because, due to the closure of the schools for a long time, the infrastructures, the sitting arrangements like chair-tables, bookshelves, electronic items etc and some other educational components are to be furnished new, which requires sufficient time as it involves financial expenses.
2. Ensure healthy security of the entry gate as the school authority has to do the followings; a. 'No Mask, No Entry' should be ensured. b. Set a disinfectant Gateway with proper measures. c. Keep the Infrared thermometer in the entry gate to measure the temperature of the students and visitors.
3. Ensure social distancing in the Classrooms as per guidelines given by the government of the country. The World Health Organization ( WHO) recommends social distancing to prevent the natural spread of the virus. While this is difficult to maintain in a school set up, they can do the following to ensure students and staff manage to keep a safe distance from each other. a. Ensure sitting arrangement for every individual student by fixing tag/floor stickers with social distancing by 4 - 6 feet. The government has also suggested arranging two students on a six feet long table. b. A system is to be practiced so that the students can enter into the room one by one. c. Teachers' movement in the classrooms should be also with maintenance of social distance. d. Ensure that the masks are put on by every student and teacher in the classrooms. e. Space the school desks and all students should face the same direction. f. School assemblies and large gatherings in a small space, including libraries, labs, etc. must be avoided. g. Stagger the opening and closing hours of school instead of the school at the same time to avoid an influx of parents and students at the gates.
4. The doctors and scientists suggest ensuring healthy hygiene at every corner of the school to ensure healthy hygiene in every corner of the school to avoid the spread of the virus in public places. The school should do; a. Ensuring disinfecting measures while entering the school b. Use of Hand Sanitizers frequently and keep sufficient hand wash/sanitizer to every corner of the school c. Students School bags and books should be disinfected. d. Teaching the students about proper measures to be always in healthy atmosphere. e. Ensuring utmost cleanliness inside and outside the classroom as well as washrooms.
5. Ventilation Systems must be standard in the school. Poor ventilation in confined indoor spaces is associated with increased transmission of respiratory infections. While the role of ventilation in preventing COVID-19 transmission is not well-defined, schools can follow guidelines for the safety of their students and may do; a. Increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors. b. Using Air freshener before class starts.
6. When school bus is used, the driver must keep it neat and clean and also ensure the followings; a. Keep the transport always disinfected by necessary measures. b. While moving the transport, try to keep the windows open for proper ventilation. it is also recommended that students are encouraged to use their personal transport as far as possible.
7. If the schools have canteen facilities, the students may be offered staggered Tiffin times with full compliance with physical distancing and attainable hygiene. The authority may do; a. No outsider foods should be allowed. b. Students should be encouraged to carry homemade foods for Tiffin and c. If required, the cafeteria may be kept closed for time being.
8. Protect Vulnerable Students and Staff of the school. In this case schools may do as follows; a. Students and staff, if suspected with some corona symptoms, will be barred from attending the school. b. Guardians are to be noted to protect their children if suspected and c. School staff must be cautioned of health and hygiene. Therefore, schools need to allow students and staff who are high-risk to continue teaching or learning from home.
9. There should be kept a designated Person and school nurse for ensuring the health and hygiene issues in the school. They may move around the school and keep a close eye towards the students and staff to take special measures if anybody is suddenly affected. The experts recommend that every school have at least one registered contact person to update the parents on various initiatives and address their concerns. A school nurse can monitor students' symptoms regularly and isolate any sick students from the rest of the school.
10. Everyday one or two teachers may be nominated as students' counsellor in the school. They will counsel the students and make them aware of the coronavirus. They also will work for protecting students from contaminations and guide them towards the right way of saving themselves from any kind of wrong doings.
Therefore, this is clear that schools are going to be reopened soon. The Director General of the Secondary and Higher Education Department has already issued a letter to all institutions with a guideline of how to reopen schools during this tough situation. As the virus evolves and transmits in a non-linear fashion, schools will ensure that they reopen and provide a safe environment for their students by keeping all safeguards in place. In this circumstance, if schools can ensure the above mentioned measures, the students, parents and teachers can feel confident to attend the school and apply their teaching-learning methods with full comfort.
Dr Md Mahmudul Hassan is an education researcher and Principal, Daffodil International School (DIS)