Though the pandemic has brought to the forefront the vital importance of virtual education options, the focus is now shifting to return to school plans. Schools continue to be an important part of the infrastructure of communities. They provide safe, supportive learning environments for students. In addition, they support economic health by employing faculty and staff and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work.
However, resuming in-person education – like returning to other places of business – does pose risk for the spread of COVID-19. While reports suggest children and adolescents may be at lower risk for contracting the virus, and if infected, generally have a less serious illness, factors such as community transmission and underlying medical conditions can impact adults and children, alike.
While each school district will need to make independent decisions as to when in-person education can safely begin, recent advancements with rapid, cost-effective COVID-19 testing and free daily health attestation screening technology is paving the way towards a safe educational experience.
Must-Have Return to School Elements
As you continue to develop your return to school safety plans, remember the four “D” must-have elements.
School administrators should coordinate with local public health officials to stay informed about the status of COVID-19 transmission in their community. Additionally, leaders will want to implement processes for screening students, faculty, and staff daily for symptoms of or exposure to a contagious illness.
Surveillance technology and rapid testing strategies being utilized by public and private education centers across the nation include:
- Mobile health attestation apps, such as Axiom Medical’s Free CheckIn2School app or CheckIn2Work app, providing real-time actionable reporting, referral to licensed medical professionals for exposure or illness alerts, and contract tracing support
- OnSite mobile COVID-19 testing
One of the most important, yet challenging elements for a safe return to school is effective social distancing. Districts may find it difficult to comply at the elementary level for developmental reasons. Middle and high school student populations also pose risks due to movement through crowded hallways when changing classes, frequent interaction, and participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports.
Consider implementing the following ideas:
- Adapt practices to allow physical distancing of 6 feet
- Stagger arrival, dismissal, and meal times
- Wherever possible, hold activities outdoors and encourage participants to spread out
- Implement programming that refrains from intermixing groups
- Avoid having areas accessible that would permit congregation in a limited space
- Reduce the number of people on transportation buses and use visual cues to illustrate social distancing adherence
Deterrence protection will require frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, face coverings, and staying home if ill.
Additional measures include:
- Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing with appropriate disposal
- Exercise caution if using shared public amenities
- Refrain from use of drinking fountains
- Creating new greetings, providing alternatives to hugs or high-fives
- Post posters, use social media, email communication, etc. around health etiquette expectations
Districts should utilize proper disinfecting products with the appropriate equipment, following CDC protocols throughout the school, including:
- High touch surfaces – tables, doorknobs, light switches, desks, faucets, sinks, etc.
Without implementing all four D’s, however, medical experts predict school re-closures will be inevitable, and swift.
Return to School Solutions with Axiom Medical
Axiom Medical is working closely with public and private schools and businesses across the country to facilitate effective return to school and return to work strategies. As a result, whether needing a solution for daily health attestations via our CheckIn2Work or Free CheckIn2School apps, COVID-19 testing programs, or case management which closely monitors your employee population throughout their recovery journey with successful reentry to the workplace, we stand ready to help!
Holly is an ER nurse by trade, but loves content marketing. She was born outside the box and believes everything is better with “sprinkles and sparkles”. She is passionate about impacting lives and uses marketing as her platform for sharing practical solutions to address real life occupational health challenges.