With the new school year just about to begin (or in some places, it’s already underway), a number of states are keeping their students in virtual learning, while quite a few are reopening for in-person classes. And multiple states and school districts are allowing families to choose between the two in virtual and in-person.
If you’re a school or child care administrator and you’re returning to in-person classes this fall, you’ll need to plan carefully and implement the appropriate safety measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 infection. You’ll also need to gain the confidence of parents with timely communication and decisive leadership as you coordinate your community through the reopening process.
Procare is here to help.
We know the business of child care. For more than 30 years we’ve been guiding child care professionals just like you to help stay connected and in control.
To help you rise to the challenge, we’ve put together this classroom safety checklist that schools and child care centers can leverage when reopening during COVID-19.
Classroom Safety Checklist for Schools and Child Care Centers Reopening During COVID-19
- Review CDC guidance – Administrators and teachers should carefully review the CDC website for the latest COVID-19 guidance for schools and child care programs.
- Share COVID-19 fact sheets with parents, teachers and students – Administrators should prepare COVID-19 fact sheets to share with parents and refer them to the CDC website for further information and guidance.
- Train teachers and students on infection prevention techniques – Teachers and students will need to be trained in infection prevention techniques, including healthy hand hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning protocols, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Place COVID-19 prevention posters around the school building – Place notices reminding students of infection prevention strategies, policies and techniques.
- Include COVID-19 prevention reminders in daily announcements – Plan daily announcements to remind students about infection prevention strategies, policies and techniques.
Environmental Cleaning & Disinfection
- Distribute disinfectant wipes and cleaning supplies where needed – Teachers and students will need cleaning supplies to sanitize shared objects, materials and surfaces throughout the day.
- Provide PPE for maintenance staff as needed – Janitorial staff should be supplied with PPE for their routine cleaning activities.
- Educate staff on how to recognize COVID-19 symptoms in themselves – Refer staff to the CDC guidance on symptoms of coronavirus and instruct staff members to stay home if they think they may have COVID-19.
- Ensure that you give out information on the hazards of cleaning chemicals, as mandated by OSHA – Hand out material safety data sheets and remind teachers to read labels of cleaning products to understand safe usage requirements.
- Hold training on OSHA standards for bloodborne pathogens – COVID-19 is not known to be transmitted through blood, but this is still required training for teachers.
- Train staff on safe disposal of PPE – Safe usage of PPE also includes safe disposal. Teachers should be trained on how to safely remove and discard face coverings. Sterile disposable gloves should be discarded after every use.
- Supply EPA-approved cleaning products – Visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website to find approved cleaning products for use against COVID-19.
- Implement daily cleaning schedules – Frequently touched surfaces inside and outside the school, and on school buses should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.
- Institute a daily cleaning process – Establish a daily process to ensure that high-touch surfaces are cleaned on a regular basis. Assign roles and responsibilities to staff members as needed and cover all key areas of the building.
- Start a safe laundry process – Staff should use PPE when washing linens and avoid shaking them in the air, which may disperse droplets containing the virus.
Infection Prevention Policies
- Restrict school-sponsored travel – Cancel field trips and planned excursions that could to areas with high infection rates or venues where it might be difficult or impossible to physically distance.
- Limit large group events – Cancel assemblies and other large group events in accordance with local and state health directives. Large group events can result in the accelerated spread of the COVID-19 virus.
- Encourage staff to take sick leave if needed – Remind staff members that they should not, under any circumstances, come to work if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Staff should be encouraged to take sick leave if they suspect they may be unwell.
- Suspend “perfect attendance” awards – Perfect attendance awards discourage students from missing class, but during a pandemic, they may create a dangerous incentive for sick kids to attend classes.
- Establish a quarantine room and policy – School administrators should establish a quarantine room where students can remain in isolation if they present with symptoms of COVID-19. Administrators should make arrangements to have the child picked up by guardians as soon as possible if they are suspected to be ill. The quarantine policy should prevent other staff and students from interacting with the sick student. The quarantine room should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every use.
- Provide PPE for school medical staff – School medical staff will require PPE to perform their roles effectively and provide treatment to students who may have COVID-19.
- Cross-train staff to cover absences – School administrators should plan for staff absences and assess whether new cross-training initiatives are necessary to cover skill and knowledge gaps if some staff members are away from work due to COVID-19.
- Organize packaged meals to reduce cafeteria time – The school cafeteria is a significant risk zone for COVID-19 transmission, especially if kids gather there during lunch time and remove face coverings to eat. Instead, have kids eat in their classrooms and serve packaged meals so kids spend less time in the cafeteria.
Partnerships & Parent Engagement
- Connect with local health authorities – Establish points of contact with state and local health authorities. Discuss emergency response planning with both parties to expedite the emergency response process.
- Develop attendance monitoring systems – Increases in absenteeism can signal a potential outbreak. Monitor attendance rates at a community level and alert local health authorities of large increases in absenteeism.
- Implement communications warning system –Establish and test a streamlined system for sending warnings or emergency alerts to all members of the school community.
- Draft an emergency communications plan – Prepare an emergency communications plan that includes a description of all types of emergency alerts and what conditions or requirements trigger an alert message.
- Manage accessibility concerns – Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all emergency communications and warnings must be accessible to persons with disabilities. This could include providing emergency warnings in visual and audio formats.
Preparation for School Closure
- Institute a school closure policy – If a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, school or child care center administrators should consult with state and local health authorities to determine whether a closure is recommended.
- Inform parents about school closure policy – Parents need to be aware of the school or child care closure plan and understand circumstances that could trigger a school closure.
- Develop an education continuity plan for students – Develop a plan to ensure that all kids can continue to learn and access educational resources during a closure.
- Create a food services continuity plan for students – Create a plan to continue providing food services to students who need them.
- Make a social/medical services continuity plan for students – Make plans to continue offering necessary social and medical services to students.
Reopen Your School with Procare Solutions
Procare Solutions provides powerful software tools to support administrators reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
With Procare, school and child care center administrators can leverage software-based attendance tracking capabilities for both staff and students, making it easier to identify trends in absenteeism that might be correlated with a rise in infections.
Offering parent engagement capabilities that include one-to-one messaging, mass communications and SMS emergency alerts, Procare lets you easily send home fact sheets, provide updates on infection prevention policy, and manage emergency communications with parents and the school community in case an infection occurs.
Procare also supports staff-to-staff messaging, enabling rapid coordination around absenteeism, policy changes and contact tracing initiatives.
Procare puts you in complete control of your reopening as you work to limit the spread of COVID-19. Are you ready to see how Procare Solutions can make your reopening safer for the entire community?