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Tips for a safe return to school

Consejos para una vuelta al colegio con seguridad

02/09/2020

Will the little ones go back to school? The truth is that everything will depend on how the infection curve evolves. The great challenge is to move from online classes to face to face or mixed classes but always putting protection as a fundamental premise. 

The truth is that all possible scenarios have been considered. Depending on the different countries and cities, going back to school could be as similar as possible to how things were at the beginning. The reality is that everything has changed and returning to school must be done under basic conditions of protection and security to prevent the Covid-19 coronavirus from spreading. 

From an educational point of view, face-to-face teaching is the best way, especially when we are talking about young primary students who need more physical contact to instil certain teachings and values. Hence, in many cities and taking into account the different scenarios, there is a commitment to more online teaching as students get older. 

Here are some measures to be taken into account when returning to school:

-Avoiding crowds is one of the great challenges. Hence, the ideal situation would be to guarantee a safety distance between students (ideally, at least 1.5 meters), something that in many cases is impossible due to the dimensions of the classrooms and the need for more teachers. Reducing the number of students per class could be considered to guarantee distancing and reduce coexistance groups. However, this is complicated or very difficult to achieve in the current educational environment and would require a large investment to carry it out. 

-The use of masks and social distancing should be followed, especially when leaving the classroom or coming into contact with other groups of children. For younger children, this distance will be necessary, as it can be difficult to get a child under 6 to wear a mask. In many cases they may not understand the obligation to wear this protection system. Here we talk about the obligation. On the other hand, here are some guidelines for a correct use of masks on children. 

-The use of digital platforms and electronic devices can be encouraged, especially in older children, and combined with face-to-face classroom sessions. Of course, we must promote a digitalization that reaches everyone and breaks the technological gap between different Autonomous Communities or between private, subsidized and public schools. We are faced with unequal access to technology.

-Fostering constant hand washing as well as the use of hydroalcoholic gel at the entrance and exit of class.

-Entering and leaving school in a staggered manner to avoid crowds of parents and students.

-We recommend that the centers, as the Ministry of Education itself has done in Spain, create the figure of a Covid-19 coordinator, who would be in charge of implementing and carrying out all these prevention measures.

-Schools must carry out a  complete sanitation and disinfection of its  facilities on a regular basis and, in particular of the contact surfaces most frequently touched, such as door handles, tables, furniture, handrails, floors... Cleaning measures shall also be increased where appropriate to workers' private areas, such as dressing rooms, lockers, toilets, kitchens and rest areas.

-Cleaning of school materials every day and frequently. The same applies to uniforms or work clothes.

-Follow-up of positive Covid cases, contact tracing and immediate reporting to medical services.

-The breaks should also be staggered, and even canceled if the epidemic situation worsens. 

-Priority should be given, as far as possible, to the use of outdoor spaces for educational and leisure activities.

-Schools must have follow-up and support plans to assist students with learning or emotional difficulties as a consequence of the circumstances or who have specific support needs or special educational needs. 

-Other advisable measures are installing screens for services to the public; increasing school transport frequency to reduce the number students transported, and thus increasing the distance between them; training courses in preventive and protective matters for teachers, training to pupils and families on the benefits of online platforms...

-These prevention and safety measures must be applied from the moment the student starts moving, to guarantee a safe journey to school and back home. We refer especially to school transport, which must be properly disinfected, trying to ensure interpersonal distance or the use of masks during the journey.

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