With safety guidelines and restrictions changing due to COVID-19, some people are concerned with the reopening of schools. Learning to navigate the new day-to-day can be challenging, so follow along for some tips on how facility managers can advance school safety to keep up with the latest and safest health regulations.

Set up the Space for Social Distancing

Set up for social distancing in schools

A lot of spaces in schools act as shared and communal spaces. Having spaces such as libraries, shared desks, and tables, cafeterias, gyms, etc. can make it difficult to ensure that each individual is maintaining social distancing at all times, depending on the age group. It can be hard to convert a space that is designed for interaction to become a social distancing space. Today there are several solutions to help with this issue, including privacy panels, mobile boards, easels, clear safety barriers, floor spacing discs, adhesive marking tape, barricade tape, and safety cones. Using these items can increase school safety by reducing the amount of close contact that students and teachers have with each other by a considerable amount. Some things you can do with these items are:

  • Reconfigure the space to ensure 6ft social distancing guidelines are in place using marking tape and spacing discs
  • Direct traffic flow, so no one gets confused and knows where to go/stand to avoid congested areas
  • Use barriers to divide classrooms and shared spaces
  • Allow privacy panels to act as dividers between students

Enforce Cleanliness

Enforce cleanliness to help school safety

Depending on the age of the students, school safety and cleanliness isn’t always common sense. Having a routine in place to ensure every student is following guidelines is a factor in germ control. Some steps you can take to enforce cleanliness are:

  • Increase the frequency of cleaning intervals/bathroom breaks to wash hands
  • Replace air filters as necessary
  • Install air purifiers to improve the quality of the air
  • Use easy-to-clean and bleachable desks and tables where students and teachers work
  • Develop a plan for sanitizing surfaces (desks and tables), classrooms and heavy-traffic spaces
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched items daily, or as often as necessary
  • Remind students to keep their hands to themselves and avoid unnecessary contact
  • Launder soft surfaces, clean with soap and water, or use appropriate cleaners
  • Consider wipeable covers for electronics for an easy disinfectant technique

Educate

Educate teachers on school safety with COVID

To properly enforce cleanliness, the appropriate people need proper education. Educating your staff on how to handle sanitation ensures everyone is on the same page. Educate your employees on the following topics for a safe and healthy environment:

  • Symptoms, to recognize and act when anything feels off
  • Instructions on what to do if symptoms arise
  • Cleaning chemical hazards
  • Policies for worker protection
  • Training to all cleaning staff before cleaning tasks

Prepare for Sickness

Prepare For Sickness Ahead of Time

When school resumes, sickness is inevitable, especially being around an increased number of people so suddenly. Schools are a hotspot for illness with so many shared spaces, and it’s not going to get better when there is a pandemic in the mix. Whether it’s COVID or a seasonal cold when a person gets sick, heavy monitoring should occur to avoid the spread of germs. To handle sickness at school, you should:

  • Isolate the ill person in a room while they are waiting for a ride
  • Provide hygienic supplies (mask, face shield, hand sanitizer) and any water, crackers, etc. that they need
  • Wear a face covering when monitoring the ill person in close contact
  • Block off the area that the person was in for up to 24 hours, or more, before entering to clean. 
  • Wear gloves to clean and disinfect the room and touched surfaces thoroughly
  • Monitor individuals who have come into contact with the ill person
  • Open any outside windows and doors to increase airflow in the area

While things will be different as schools reopen, if we all work together to ensure a safe environment for everyone involved, hopefully, we can avoid an intense spread of COVID-19. It’s going to be hard work, but if you follow these steps, you will be one step closer to success. 

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