September is here, which means the start of a new school year. In many places, classes have resumed amidst the global outbreak of COVID-19. The start of this semester has been unlike any other; it has caused many parents to feel anxious about whether the classrooms they send their kids to are really safe. Not all parents have the resources to support in-home learning, so even if they are worried about their children’s safety, they have no other options. Life carries on, even during a pandemic, and schools have reopened. To deliver education to children safely, it’s essential to keep the classrooms clean. Here are some ways that you can keep your students safe this school year:
Provide hand sanitizer to each person that enters the classroom. Make it easy for kids to disinfect their hands by placing a bottle near the front door. It will be the first thing they see when they walk in, so they can make a habit out of using it. Cleaning is very important for schools; the potential for an infection to spread in a public place is unsettling. Children can bring their illness home and get vulnerable members of the family sick. Frequent hand sanitizing and washing will reduce the chances of contracting the virus.
Pay attention to high-touch points. Kids find a way to get their hands on everything. You should make a checklist of all the areas that need extra attention. These include light switches, door handles, desks, seats, and bookshelves. If there are iPads or computers in the classroom, they should be disinfected between uses. Any surface that multiple kids touch can be considered a high-touch point. Once you have a comprehensive list, make sure that these areas get cleaned at the end of each school day.
Increase the frequency of cleaning. Children have always been messy, but now this fact has unsettling consequences. Uncleaned surfaces may be touched by many children who will suck their thumbs, pick their noses, or play with their friends before washing their hands. Before COVID-19, cubbies, lockers, and school supplies might have been cleaned a few times a week. But now, areas like these should be cleaned either once or twice a day. It might seem excessive, but it can make the difference between safe kids, and kids who get sick.
Don’t allow children to share objects. We tell our children from a young age that “sharing is caring” – during a pandemic, this saying is the opposite of true. Encourage children to bring their own supplies to school whenever possible. If a project that’s assigned requires students to share one item, then consider altering the guidelines of this project, or have them complete it at home. When objects are shared, such as pencil crayons or staplers, clean them before the next student uses them.
Use a disinfectant. For the health and safety of everyone at the school, it’s important to understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Cleaning is the act of removing dirt from a surface, either with a cloth or a brush. Sanitizing gets rid of bacteria using hot soap and water. But it’s disinfecting that’s important for eliminating viruses like COVID-19. It involves the use of certified disinfectants to completely kill bacteria and viruses; a few examples of these products are hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol. When you’re cleaning surfaces, use one of these approved products to eliminate dangerous viruses.
Encourage children to wear masks. COVID-19 is easily spread through respiratory droplets. By wearing a mask, children’s mouths and noses will be covered whenever they sneeze or cough. This will reduce the chances of an infection spreading throughout the classroom. It will help keep the school cleaner.
Hang up informational posters. Kids love designs that are bright and colourful. When their attention wanders, they’ll look around the classroom for interesting things. Catch their eye with a bright and bold poster that educates them about handwashing and physical distancing. If it’s decorated with cartoon characters and graphics, it will look more interesting to kids. The more ways you can deliver these important lessons to school children, the better.
For schools to reopen safely, new protocols must be followed. Children may have trouble adjusting to the new regulations; they’re used to roughhousing with their friends and sharing pencils or erasers with classmates. It might be sad for them to give up these activities, but it’s important for faculty, students, and family members to stay safe.