“As a teacher, what can I do to protect myself when heading back to the classroom come September as the novel coronavirus continues spreading? “
With school reopening weeks away, 8 in 1o teachers in Canada are worried about returning to school amid COVID19. The concerns teachers have include the mental health and well-being of their students in relation to the COVID19, and of course their own safety.
In this blog, we explore 5 practical tips for teachers to protect themselve from the pandemic when school reopens.
COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of masks and other PPE is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
According to the Guide to reopening Ontario’s schools, teachers will be provided with medical masks, eye protect such as face shields, and other personal protective equipment. To reduce the potential spread of COVID19, you should know how to properly wear and sanitize PPE.
How to put on a face mask
How to remove a face mask
High-touch surfaces can be risky. COVID-19 spreads primarily through the droplets people emit when they cough, sneeze, talk, sing, or exhale; Those droplets can land on any surfaces nearby or be transferred there by someone touching the surface. Simply touching a contaminated surface won’t give you the coronavirus; however, you can transfer the virus to your mouth, nose, or eyes by touching those sensitive spots, allowing the virus to enter the body and cause infection. Objects that people frequently touch with bare hands are of greater concern than chairs or other surfaces that we’re in contact with through clothing.
High touch points in schools include:
To reduce the risk of being exposed to COVID19 in schools, avoid directly touching frequently-touched surfaces with fingertips, or grab a tissue when needed. In addition, sanitizing the objects in the classroom that are frequently touched with effective disinfectant such as Vital Oxide can eliminate the germs and in turn protect yourself and others. Last but not least, clean your hands before touching your smartphone. Mobile phones may not be public surfaces, but studies have shown that they too can harbor bacteria, viruses, and other germs.
Getting yourself familiar with the guidances for school reopening can help you be more prepared when the new school year comes. By strictly following the protocols, you can protect yourself and others in school from the coronavirus disease.
Before the training being provided to tachers, there are some guidelines for schools to reopen safely during the pandemic that teachers should be aware of.
All staff and students must self-screen every day before attending school. School boards should provide parents with a checklist to perform daily screening of their children before arriving at school and self-assessment tools should be made available to staff to ensure awareness of possible symptoms of COVID-19. Signs should be posted at entrances to the school to remind students, staff, parents/caregivers, and essential visitors of screening requirements. If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home from school and should seek testing and appropriate medical attention.
The ministry is also working with public health officials to ensure a supply of public health nurses to assist schools across the province, including assistance with screening of potential cases of COVID-19.
All staff and students who are experiencing new or worsening symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must not attend school and should seek appropriate medical attention as required, including getting tested at a COVID-19 testing centre.
Staff and students feeling sick should remain at home while waiting for test results.
If a symptomatic individual tests positive for COVID-19, they should continue to remain in isolation at home and follow the directions of their local public health unit.
As much distancing as possible between students, between students and staff and between staff members should always be promoted. Physical distancing measures are to be supplemented with other public health measures supported by health and safety strategies, such as screening, adapted school environment, cohorting, hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning and masking.
Classroom sizes in Ontario schools vary in size, but schools are encouraged to remove unnecessary furniture and place desks with as much distancing as possible, and to allow teachers as much teaching space as possible. Desks should face forward rather than in circles or groupings.
Schools are encouraged to locate larger classes in larger spaces and to use all available space in a school, including gyms and libraries.
Appropriate hand hygiene is one of the most important protective strategies. Schools should be prepared to train students on appropriate hand hygiene, including the use of alcohol-based hand rub, and to reinforce its use.
This can involve scheduling breaks to allow students to wash their hands at appropriate times during the school day.
Check out what a school at Kitchener, Waterloo has done to create and maintain a safe and healthy school environment for students, teachers, and school staff amid the COVID-19 pandamic.
Having small class sizes, adding hand sanitizing stations, increasing sanitization for high touch surfaces, AIM KW is also disinfecting the school facility several times a day by fogging Health Canada authorized disinfectant Vital Oxide to eliminate germs and viruses.
To maintain a safe environment when schools reopen, students play a vital role in it. Providing students with accurate information and science-based facts about COVID-19 and engaging them in age appropriate discussion can really help prevent and control the spread of the virus in school.
Here are some suggestions about how teachers can engage students of different ages on preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19.
When you come home after work, first disinfect your personal belonging brought to school, such as backpacks, phones, wallets, keys, waterbottles and lunchboxs, to keep bacteria and viruses out of your house. In this unique time, you want to ensure the disinfectant you use is absolutely safe and effective against COVID19.
Vital Oxide is a disinfectant authorized by Health Canada and approved by EPA for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is 100% biodegradable, non-corrosive, non-hazardous, and non-irritating to the skin. No mixing and rinse required before and after use, Vital Oxide is convenient and safe to use – just spray, wipe, or fog right from the bottle.
In terms of the application method, spraying and fogging are recommended as they allow for touchless application to reduce cross-contamination. To effectively sanitize your items, you can use a spray bottle or our junor fogger for better and faster applications.
After applying the disinfectant to the items, put them aside for 10 minutes kill time and the whole disinfection process is complete.