What are the prevention and control measures to be prepared and put in place in schools?

There are several actions and requirements that should be reviewed and put in place to ensure the safety of children and school staff while at school.  Special provisions should be considered for early childhood development, higher learning institutions, residential schools or specialized institutions.

WHO recommends the following:

Policy, practice and infrastructure: Ensure the necessary resources, policies and infrastructure are in place that protect the health and safety of all school personnel, including people at higher risk.

Behavioural aspects: Consider the age and capacity of students to understand and respect measures put in place. Younger children may find it more difficult to adhere to physical distancing or the appropriate use of masks.

Safety and security: School closure or re-opening may affect the safety and security of students and the most vulnerable children may require special attention, such as during pick-up and drop-off.

Hygiene and daily practices: Hand hygiene and environmental cleaning measures should be in place to limit exposure. Schools should consider training of staff and students, a schedule for daily cleaning, availability of hand hygiene facilities and national/local guidance on the use of masks.

Screening and care of sick students, teachers and other school staff: Schools should enforce the policy of “staying home if unwell”, waive the requirement for a doctor’s note, create a checklist for parents/students/staff to decide whether to go to school (taking into consideration the local situation), and consider options for screening on arrival.

Communication with parents and students: Schools should keep students and parents informed about the measures being implemented to ensure their collaboration and support.

Additional school-related measures such as immunization checks and catch-up vaccination programmes: Ensure continuity or expansion of essential services, including school feeding and mental health and psycho-social support.

Physical distancing: Physical distancing of at least 1 metre between people should be implemented in the school premises and in the classrooms. This includes increasing desk spacing and staging recesses, breaks and lunchbreaks; limiting the mixing of classes or age groups; considering smaller classes or alternating attendance schedules, and ensuring good ventilation in classrooms.

Remote learning: Tele-schooling and distance learning options such as delivering assignments, broadcasting lessons on radio or television and frequent follow-up support should be adapted to the situation.

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