Following on from a recent announcement by the Prime Minister that the government’s 5 tests have been met, some school children have started a cautious return to their classroom-based education. This week, pupils in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 have returned, with more years expected to return later in June.
As headteachers prepare to open their doors to more pupils, and parents consider whether to send their children back to school or not, we take a look at some of the physical measures that can be implemented for a safe return.
Couriers like Speedel will stand ready to help schools, colleges and universities transport the equipment needed to help with their gradual and eventual reopening.
Hand washing stations
Hand washing remains one of the best ways to avoid catching coronavirus. That’s why it’s particularly vital for schools and education facilities to reinforce the importance of hand hygiene. Hand washing stations are an appealing option for many schools where sinks are not already installed in classrooms. Additional hand sanitising stations are also useful for anyone entering or leaving school. Hand washing is expected to become an integral part of the school day, in the same way as taking a register or an assembly. Facilities will likely need to source hand sanitiser stations like this one or order more handwash than in normal times.
Luckily, many of the tables and chairs in schools are easy to move and rearrange. That will help teachers ensure pupils stay 2 metres apart at all times. Many head teachers are examining ways to adapt their school layout and many can expect to see a very different school environment to the one they left in March. This may involve erecting barriers, sectioning areas of the building, or bringing in additional tables and chairs.
The government does not currently recommend face masks in an education setting. However, they do recommend PPE if:
children, young people and students whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs should continue to receive their care in the same way
if a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) while in their setting and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained. If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then disposable gloves, a disposable apron and a fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting etc, then eye protection should also be worn.
For this reason, many schools are ordering PPE including face shields and masks in order to prepare and protect staff. Each school will need to source its own PPE either through its local authority or via local PPE markets. Speedel has been delivering PPE throughout the pandemic – read more about our work in the healthcare sector.
Read the guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care for more information about preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE.
Stationery and storage
The news channels have been filled with images of classrooms prepared for the partial return of children this week. Many show plastic wallets and trays filled with designated toys for a particular child, a concept designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus and allow for easier disinfection. Education providers will need to assess their storage and stationery supplies in advance.
Classroom protective screens
A number of providers have already started to design protective screens for the education setting. These essentially shield the child and protect their peers. While not compulsory, these screens could provide an effective barrier for those children in classrooms short of space. Many are lightweight and mobile too, adding flexibility to the classroom.
Additional cleaning equipment
Schools and education facilities are no stranger to infections and viruses so they are often well prepared with cleaning equipment and protocols. However, in light of covid-19, cleaning equipment may need to be vastly increased and provided to each and every classroom. Cleaning high touch surfaces and implementing scrupulous hygiene protocols is a necessary precaution in times of coronavirus. Likewise, books and toys will be quarantined and disinfected after each use. Schools will likely need to take delivery of more cleaning equipment than in normal times, to maintain such measures.
Whether it’s a set of arrows for the corridor or a set of guidelines for the dining room, physical signage is likely to play a big role in the return of children to schools. Reminding children in clear, concise messages will surely help maintain social distancing and hygiene.We’re already working hard to deliver physical signage to schools, colleges and universities.
If your school, college or university is implementing any of the above systems and requires a reliable sameday courier to deliver equipment safely and securely, get in touch. Call us on 0333 772 2021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.