Up and down the country, we have been preparing for schools reopening for a while, and now that they have reopened their doors – in accordance with the coronavirus roadmap – it’s important to keep a checklist to not get complacent. So, to that end, how can we keep our schools safe during COVID-19, as the world tries to get back to some semblance of normality?
1. Maintain good hygiene and cleaning
It’s imperative that toilets are fully stocked and that schools are enforcing frequent hand washing across the board. Sticking up posters reinforcing the recommended time for washing hands and diagrams is advised. Hand sanitiser stations are also highly recommended to provide better access to good hand hygiene, but you should be encouraging pupils to bring in their own hand gels, too.
Cleaning should be rigorous with daily disinfection of surfaces. Sanitation, water and waste management should be managed meticulously, with those in charge following the appropriate procedures always.
2. Good ventilation
Ventilation is everything, whether it’s confined spaces or larger buildings. Many schools also have portacabins set up for more classroom space. Luckily, summer is on its way and we’re out of winter, so we can open up windows and doors to increase air flow.
3. Outdoor learning and activities
Many schools already use outdoor learning for their curriculum, but it’s even more of a great idea in the current climate. Virtually any lesson can be taken outdoors. As long as you cover the lesson objectives and curriculum points, there’s certainly no reason why you can’t teach outside! Taking learning outdoors can engage pupils and inject some energy into a topic; it’s a brand new learning space for them, after all. And right now, it can help with social distancing and air flow.
4. Physical and social distancing
Whilst this is difficult to always maintain in a school, you should have social distancing policies in place, and it does depend on space. If it means lines of pupils need to extend or be split, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Update your staff and pupils on any procedures that need to follow social distancing wherever possible, such as fire drills. Ways to help with social distancing in schools are:
- Rearranging the classrooms to give more space between pupils
- Clearing clutter
- Using the outdoors for lines and queuing
- Going outside and using the playground for activities or lessons
- Having classroom assemblies as opposed to whole school ones, where the headteacher passes on information to class teachers
- Reorganising the school day by assigning different break times for different Year Groups
- Having social distancing protective screens
- Reorganising lockers in corridors to break up congestion
- Having a one-way system in place for corridors
5. Face coverings
The World Health Organisation advised that “children aged 12 and over should wear a face covering under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.” The UK government also advises that where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by both pupils and staff “when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils and students when outdoors on the premises.”
6. Posters and signage
Signage is highly recommended with floor stamps and posters around to remind people to keep their distance. Signs should be clear and easy to read with as much instruction as possible, especially in a school setting. Toilets should have informative, visual posters on how to wash hands and how long for. Signs in classrooms should encourage pupils to regularly use hand sanitisers, wash hands, keep their distance, and if needed – to wear face coverings.
Children should be able to feel safe at school, and now that we’re living through a pandemic, it’s even more vital to keep pupils safe and protected. Make sure standards don’t slip, that the importance of basic hygiene and physical distancing is non-negotiable, and that both staff and students are doing their part in helping to stop the spread of germs. One thing that can help so much with all of this is the right equipment, as mentioned above.
For any queries about what furniture and equipment you can add to your school, speak to our friendly, experienced team today.