Measures Taken By Educational Institutions In COVID-19 Outbreak

With the outbreak of COVID – educational institutions have now taken up ‘Safety & Security’ as their topmost priority.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of schools as awareness-drivers around drivers around diseases, disease prevention and as propagators of safe & responsible-behaviour among young children both within their homes and the community at large. While Schools have been considered for long as temples of learning and least vulnerable to hazards and threats, this pandemic has taught us that in severe cases that have a mass impact, the actual situation is to the contrary. Like any other organisation, learning institutions are also highly prone to risks arising out of threats and hazards which need to be controlled to ensure safety and security of the students in both preschool & schools, the school leadership team and administrative staff etc. Health & Safety and Physical Security form one of the core pillars of ‘Successful School Administration’ – risks to these, are part of operational risks to the institution and if not managed appropriately, can adversely affect the health, safety and sustainability of the all stakeholders within the educational institution. 

‘Safety & Security’ along with ‘Excellent Academic Delivery & Holistic Development Of Children’ are among the top priorities of all educational institutions. With the outbreak of COVID – educational institutions have now taken up ‘Safety & Security’ as their topmost priority and have built dedicated teams & taskforces to ensure no stone is unturned in making schools and preschools a safe haven in the event of resumption. 

Given the uncertainty on availability of a suitable paediatric vaccine and the effects of the lockdown and remote learning on both the physical and medical health of students, a time-bound phased school resumption with all the necessary health & hygiene protocols in place, is the only be a logical way forward for schools and education institutions.  

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Education Ministry, Department of School Education & Literacy (DoSEL), Govt of India has issued comprehensive guidelines for reopening Schools amid Covid-19 on 05 Oct 2020. Based on the same and also including global best practices on K-12 education, all educational institutions will be required to prepare Pre Resumption COVID-19 Hygiene and Safety programmes. Some critical measures that may be undertaken by educational institutions under the school resumption programme, during COVID are detailed below:  

Screening and Health Monitoring  

  1. All staff, teachers, parents and visitors will undergo thorough screening protocol and temperature reading and sanitization will be carried out.    

  1. Self-Health declaration from every staff/teacher and visitor will be taken and entry will be allowed inside the School thereafter.  

  1. Regular health monitoring of staff/teachers and students will be carried out and health condition monitored for all positive cases.  

Sanitation and Disinfection  

  1. Schools have to prepare a Disinfection and Cleaning Plan with increased frequency of cleaning and sanitization of critical areas such as classrooms, corridors, washrooms and office areas.  

  1. Procure and use only quality and reputed cleaning and disinfectants approved by FDA.  

Social distancing Protocols  

1. School will ensure strict social/physical distancing by continuous monitoring and frequent awareness drives for all staff, employees and students of the school. 

2. Some key areas and activities where Social distancing norms will be strictly adhered are listed below: 

a)On arrival and dispersal of students 

b)Common halls, canteen and lifts 

c)Classrooms and Staff rooms 

d)Laboratories (Science, Computer, Creative, AI Labs) 

e)Seating plans 

f)Washroom and drinking areas 

g)Corridors, staircases (adequate signage and floor markings will be mandated) 

h)all school events and meetings 

Isolation and Containment  

1. School are required to provide for dedicated, separate Isolation room as per Isolation protocol for immediate isolation of staff/teachers or students showing symptoms.  

2. School will have to form ‘Pandemic Response Teams’ and nominate adequate and appropriate team members to lead the same. 

Prevention and Awareness  

1. Schools have to carry out frequent and regular awareness and training session for all staff and support staff on enhancing their knowledge on Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. 

2. School management will regularly keep in touch with stakeholders by providing updates through online platforms and communication circulars to parents and teachers.

3. Respective roles and responsibilities will be identified for each category of staff and employees to ensure everyone participates and strictly adheres to safety protocols.  

4. All the critical areas of the School will have displays with Health & Safety Covid specific advisories, Posters and signages to reinforce responsible behaviour and reduce risk of infection. 

5. To mitigate the spread and control of infection, separate bins will be identified to dispose of the used mask and gloves and waste disposal protocols will be followed to ensure safe disposal of such waste.  

As sector leaders, I encourage all educational institutions to create a positive school culture where every student and staff member imbibes the culture of safety and adopts it as a way of school- life within the school and takes ownership of ensuring that the school and community is safe. We do realize that till a time-bound vaccination plan is rolled out, schools will have to operate with these measures, collectively termed as “New Normal”.  Done right, we can steer us on the road to recovery while staying committed to wholesome development and learning through a hybrid model of learning which will be a blend of both classroom and online/remote learning incorporating all mandated hygiene and safety protocols. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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educational institutions COVID-19 outbreak

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