COVID-19: How to reopen schools without spreading coronavirus

by | May 22, 2020 | Articles, Health Education | 0 comments

Physical distancing and wearing of protective face masks at the Orot Etzion school classroom in Efrat, Israel as a safety measure to curb the spread of coronavirus among school children.

Physical distancing and wearing protective face masks at the Orot Etzion school classroom in Efrat, Israel as a safety measure to curb the spread of coronavirus among school children as schools get ready to reopen globally. Photo credit: timesofisrael.com

How to reopen schools globally without spreading coronavirus

5 ways countries of the world can reopen schools without the second wave of coronavirus spread

5 measures nations can reopen schools internationally without increasing the rate of coronavirus infection cases.

 

Schools are getting ready to reopen globally

European schools are getting ready to reopen fully in the coming weeks, same with some African countries, despite medical and teachers’ concern about schoolchildren spreading COVID-19. All 50 states in the US have relaxed lockdown measures allowing the economic activities to restart partially after 2 months of lockdown US President, Donald Trump had urged the states to reopen schools.

In Asia, some school children have already returned to school while others are getting ready to and high school students are going back to school in South Korean but not without difficulties.

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How schools will reopen without coronavirus spread

How will schools reopen keeping the children safe and avoid having the second wave of coronavirus spread by the schoolchildren? In this article, I will analyze 5 ways countries in the world can reopen schools without coronavirus spread by the schoolchildren.

1. School activities should resume in coronavirus-free areas and cities

2. Split the school classroom children

3. Maintaining physical distancing in schools and in school bus services

4. Temporary suspension of school crowding activities (such as sporting, physical exercises and games and music lessons and activities)

5. Early school day dismissal

1. School activities should resume in coronavirus-free areas and cities

Academic school activities should resume in coronavirus-free areas if coronavirus tests have widely been conducted with reliable results obtained in those areas or cities and movements into those areas strictly restricted. In such an area, nursery and primary school children and even secondary (high) school students can be allowed to take classroom lessons and activities except for involvement ball games and contact sports.

2. Split the school classroom children into learning groups

One major way of reopening schools without spiking the rate of infection cases is by splitting the school classroom children into different learning groups and then allowing the groups alternate between school lessons/activities and home school lessons. Each group should not have more than 15 pupils.

Breaks for those school children taking turn in school lessons and activities should be held in shifts to avoid overcrowding in classrooms, corridors, and playgrounds.

Smaller groups bring a higher degree of wellbeing for the school children, and make the teachers have more attention with the children during the school lessons and activities.

3. Maintaining physical distancing in schools and in school bus services

Reopening schools without maintaining physical distancing might result in coronavirus spread among school children.

School children up to age 11 can return to school if they will be kept at least 1.5 meters apart in classrooms and in other places of learning wearing their compulsory protective masks with more school lessons and activities taught outside.

The regulatory guidelines for running schools at this time should apply to the means of bringing them to school. If physical distancing will be difficult to practice and sustain in school bus services, parents, guardians and childcare givers should be advised to bring their children to school in privately-owned cars or hired vehicles.

4. Temporary suspension of school crowding activities (such as sporting, physical exercises and games and music lessons and activities)

School crowding activities such as sporting, physical exercises, games, and music lessons, and activities should be temporarily suspended when schools reopen for the fact that having them will increase the chances of body closeness and contact among school children, defeating physical distancing measures consequently.

Such outlined school crowding activities sporting, physical exercises, games, and music lessons and activities can be undertaken during homeschooling.

5. Early school day dismissal

Many school children and students are engaged in online homeschooling ever since lockdown school closure in many countries due to COVID-19 spread.

Schools can reopen and dismiss earlier than before for the time being but ensuring that’s basic skill lessons (English and Mathematics inclusive) are taught every school day. The rest of the other lessons can be planned and undertaken in the home school after the school children return home.

With early school day dismissal, the chances of COVID-19 spread will plummet and with number of infection cases dropping gradually, school activities returns normally.

These strategic coronavirus-spread preventive approaches are not devoid of hygiene measures of the strict practice of constant handwashing with soap, sanitizing where handwashing appears inconvenient and disinfecting school classrooms and other buildings, infrastructures, and premises regularly.

The Debate about reopening schools

Many medical professionals and other scientists as well as teachers are against reopening the school sooner than later in fear of the spread of COVID-19 among school children.

Scientists have warned that children with coronavirus can be as infectious as the adults due to social behaviours including an inability to practice physical distancing; increased mobility, and a tendency to get involved in playing and music activities; crying, coughing, or sneezing.

Many teachers, doubting how the safety measures will keep the school children safe, have said that the detailed draft health regulations protocol is inapplicable, especially for the nursery (early learning foundation stage) pre-preschool and kindergarten children classes, insinuating that teaching is based on continuous handling of objects.

In Europe, many parents are also reluctant to send their children back to school for the reason that there are still too many uncertainties.

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron had earlier went against the advice of the government’s scientific committee by announcing that creches and primary and nursery schools will reopen progressively from 11th May 2020, but will the government of France and other national governments with such plans, put all measures in place to ensure the COVID-19 doesn’t spread among the school children after the school lessons and activities resume properly.

If extended testing and other safety measures put in place is not convincing to teachers, parents other education stakeholders, efforts to send the children back to school may not yield the expected result.

Written by Ekene Ifechukwu

Ekene Ifechukwu is an education writer. He has over 7 years of experience in teaching and tutoring. He has taught in primary and secondary schools. He has affection for training children and young people. He aims at improving other people's lives through education.

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