- Update or develop school emergency and contingency plans.
- Consider canceling any community events/meetings that usually take place on school premises, based on risk.
- Reinforce frequent handwashing and sanitation and procure needed supplies.
- Prepare and maintain handwashing stations with soap and water, and if possible, place alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizers) in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets.
- Clean and disinfect school buildings, classrooms, and especially water and sanitation facilities at least once a day, particularly surfaces that are touched by many people (railings, lunch tables, sports equipment, door, and window handles, toys, teaching, and learning aids, etc.)
Implement social distancing practices that may include:
- Staggering the beginning and end of the school day
- Canceling assemblies, sports games, and other events that create crowded conditions
- When possible, create space for children’s desks to be at least one meter apart
- Teach and model creating space and avoiding unnecessary touching
- Establish procedures if students or staff become unwell: Plan ahead with local health authorities, school health staff, and update emergency contact lists. Ensure a procedure for separating sick students and staff from those who are well – without creating stigma – and a process for informing parents/caregivers, and consulting with health care providers/health authorities wherever possible. Students/staff may need to be referred directly to a health facility, depending on the situation/context, or sent home. Share procedures with staff, parents, and students ahead of time.
- Promote information sharing: Coordinate and follow guidelines from the national health and education authorities. Share known information with staff, caregivers, and students, providing updated information on the disease situation, including prevention and control efforts at school. Reinforce that caregivers should alert the school and health care authorities if someone in their home has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and keep their child at home. Utilize parent-teacher committees and other mechanisms to promote information sharing. Also be sure to address children’s questions and concerns, including through the development of child-friendly materials such as posters which can be placed on notice boards, in restrooms, and other central locations.
- Adapt school policies where appropriate: Develop flexible attendance and sick leave policies that encourage students and staff to stay home when sick or when caring for sick family members. Discourage the use of perfect attendance awards and incentives. Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by crosstraining staff. Plan for possible academic calendar changes, particularly in relation to breaks and exams.
- Monitor school attendance: Implement school absenteeism monitoring systems to track student and staff absence and compare against usual absenteeism patterns at the school. Alert local health authorities about large increases in student and staff absenteeism due to respiratory illnesses.
- Address Mental Health/Psychosocial support needs: Encourage children to discuss their questions and concerns. Explain it is normal that they may experience different reactions and encourage them to talk to teachers if they have any questions or concerns. Provide information in an honest, age-appropriate manner. Guide students on how to support their peers and prevent exclusion and bullying. Ensure teachers are aware of local resources for their own well-being. Work with school health workers/social workers to identify and support students and staff who exhibit signs of distress.
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