Businesses all over the world are slowly beginning to reopen, but schools and educational institutions face special challenges during this time period. Schools need to carefully plan their reopening strategy before restarting any in-person classes or programs. Here are three key points every school should consider:
If feasible, schools should think about using symptom screening to try to prevent students or caregivers ill with Covid-19 from coming to school. Caregivers would ideally fill out questions about possible Covid-19 symptoms and exposure through an online portal and show a pass when arriving at the school. Not all school systems will be able to support this process. A more low-tech option is to have a staff member ask caregivers and students screening questions upon arrival.
Screening is not helpful without clear policies around who is allowed into the school. Obviously students with Covid-19 should not be allowed into school, but what about students who have only been exposed? What degree of exposure should cause a student to be barred from school? It is iportant for schools to have specific written policies in advance.
Lastly, schools must consider how they will prevent transmission within the classroom. Plexiglass shields, spacing desks out, hybrid teaching models, and masks are all effective strategies that schools should consider. Individual schools should consult with school districts, insurance companies, and outside sources to achieve a maximum level of safety for their students.
Symptom screening, written policies, and thoughtful classroom planning are three critical pieces of a reopening plan. As new variants of Covid-19 evolve, schools must be ready to adapt to changing circumstances. Still, schools can take these concrete actions towards safely reopening.
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