As schools in Nigeria are getting set to reopen having been closed for months as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, it is essential that mistakes in other areas of the world are not repeated. The overly hasty opening of schools has led to the second wave of COVID-19 in some parts of Europe, the Americas, and some areas of the Middle East. Though according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children, we should yet understand that it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus. Therefore, tremendous caution should be used when gradually opening classes back up. This can be done through the following strategies.
1. Small Class Sizes
While ensuring all students attending school have access to classroom resources, it is also important to keep the numbers in one room at a given time to a minimum number deemed safe for adequate social distancing. This is not the time to stock 60 students in a class of 30 students capacity. There should be a cancellation of assemblies, sports games and other events that create crowded conditions. Having some classes outside may also be a way to discourage the spread of the virus.
2. Educating Parents and Students
Parents should be made to understand basic information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission.
Educating parents and students about proper mask-wearing, hand-washing, and distancing can keep children from contracting the virus outside of the school setting and bringing it into the classroom.
3. Resources in the School to Prevent the Virus
There should be available places for washing hands, alcohol-based gel for disinfecting hands, and masks in case children forget them or their own masks at break time. Schools should provide water, sanitation and waste management facilities and follow environmental cleaning and decontamination procedures. In addition, parents should be given an undertaken slip to sign, saying their children are healthy. Thermometers should also be provided in every classroom to test for fever.
4. Plans for Dealing with Infected Students and Teachers
In case a student or a teacher tests positive for COVID-19, there should be plans in place for how to deal with the situation and continue lessons even if quarantine or lockdowns are necessary. This should be carefully done without creating a stigma.
5. Adopt a flexible attendance system
School administrators should try to adopt school attendance policies that allow teachers and students to stay home when sick or when caring for sick family members. The truth is that nobody wants to lose his/her job at this season, so if this flexible is not in place a lot of staff would still want to be at work while they know they are ill. This will indeed pose a great danger to the school community.
To prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 in school settings, precautions are necessary.