Resuming educational institutions amid C-19
Regardless to speak that the students, parents and institution authorities have been severely affected both mentally and financially due to the deadly impact of COVID-19. UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO and other education and health oriented organizations are also opining to resume all educational institutions following some guidelines as issued.
Every institution has to follow the instructions announced earlier by the Cabinet Division, Ministry of Public Administration, and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
So, if unless or otherwise institutions are reopened, the proper measures must be taken to restart in a risk freeway. In that case, there are some steps which are to be taken by the institution authorities, the Guardians and the teachers to perform with great care.
1. Steps of institution authorities: The Institution authorities should take the following steps:
a. Necessary planning and funding for institution authority need to be ensured before reopening. Necessary budget planning and allocation for implementing the guidelines need to be made and ensured in advance, where applicable.
b. The Institution authority should make a detailed notice with child-friendly language to educate on cleanliness of the school and hygiene measures.
c. Every institution has to take some initiatives for confirming the safety and security measures and the toilets will have to be different for boys and girls and need to be ensured at least 15 days before reopening the institutions.
d. The authority should manage the necessary disinfectants, soap, and other cleaning materials to disinfect classrooms, office rooms, garbage containers, and toilets, including the school premises, every day before reopening.
e. There should be some restrictions to allow the teachers, students and staff, who are ill, and pregnant female teachers they do not need to come to the institution after reopening.
f. The schedule of the institution should be reshuffled so that the opening time, closing time, mid-day meal times and tiffin time are arranged in such a manner so that it does not create a crowd of students and their guardians.
g. School authorities will also formulate a plan locally by considering the school's capacity and the number of students for multiple shifts to ensure social distancing.
h. The school authorities need to have sufficient numbers of non-contact thermometers to measure the temperature of teachers, staff, and students, and outsiders to maintain social distance at the entrance of the school.
i. The school authority must monitor various health parameters in the school and focus on the class study as well as distance learning. Schools should also focus more on teaching than taking exams.
j. The authority should set some disinfectants before the gate so that the students can enter into the classes with germ free health.
k. Institutions should forbid nonessential visits and require everyone who enters the school, not only students and staff but also parents, delivery people, and maintenance workers, to wash their hands (or apply hand sanitizer) and wear a face mask.
l. Institutions may alleviate overcrowding by moving to a split-shift schedule (incorporating morning and afternoon sessions) or by alternating students between in-person and remote learning.
m. The authority may install different hand-washing and sanitizing stations and ensure their use as required. There will need to be more cleaning during the day, when classes are in session, as well as at the end of the day.
n. The authority can reduce the number of surfaces touched by multiple people, for example, by keeping classroom doors open. Using lift/elevator may also be avoided for the students to keep them safe from transmission.
Steps of guardians: The guardians have some important roles to send their children to the institutions as mentioned below;
a.The guardians will take special cares while coming to the institution and going back to the house in terms of their safety and security.
b.While using their own private car, they must ensure its sanitization and disinfections before and after using it. If they use a public car, there must be a care of saving themselves using hand sanitizer or any kind of ventilator dresses.
c.The guardians must counsel their children to be careful when they are in the institution and tell them to create any crowd in the classroom.
d.While sending to the institution, they must give musk, hand sanitizer, hand gloves and any other strong health safety items where necessary.
e. After returning to home, they should spray sufficient disinfectants to children's school bags to protect any germs if any.
Steps of Teachers: The teachers will have to take some key steps before and after reopening the institutions, which are mentioned below;
* The teachers should reduce risk wherever possible. Large in-person student assemblies should be stopped. Cafeterias may need to close, with students instead eating in classrooms.
* The teachers should avoid all extracurricular activities like group singing, group dance, group project/assignment and large choir rehearsals which increase risk need to stop. Team sports may be too risky; clusters of cases have been reported among the sports teams.
* The class teacher should revise the class attendance system to reflect the urgency of staying home when ill, and absences should not require a doctor's note.
* The subject teacher should revise the syllabus with the consultation of the authority and make it in such a way that the students can sit for the exam comfortably.
* The teachers will ensure the students wear a mask throughout the academic hour, although this may be challenging for younger children. The teachers may declare adopting reward systems to encourage mask wearing and hand-washing for the students.
* The teachers can rearrange the classrooms to reduce transmission, such as by having desks facing the same direction. Classrooms may need to operate at reduced capacity to provide increased physical distance. If conditions allow, holding class outdoors is safer.
* The teachers will prepare some classes for the students on COVID-19 and give them good ideas about prevention from the disease and make them aware of the disease.
* The teachers should enhance the communication and coordination process with the guardians to take care of their children's studies and motivate them positively.
Finally, we may state that the world is full of different viral attacks because of which human beings suffer a lot time and again. But nothing is stopped. If educational institutions are planned to resume, there should be no problem I think; we have to be just cautious enough and make our students, guardians and teachers motivated for using all necessary elements, so that everybody can be safe and sound from the danger. If the above mentions steps can be taken consciously, the institutions will run smoothly and there will have no risks at all.
Dr Md Mahmudul Hasan is Principal, Daffodil International School, Dhaka