A Starting Point to Help Reopen Schools Safely
COVID-19 has created countless challenges this year for schools and other educational institutions. These challenges have all had to be thought through and addressed as part of the reopening plans necessary to start the school year this fall. In order to do so successfully, schools must follow national guidelines and have plans in place to help protect students, staff and teachers from COVID-19.
We’ve put together a guide to help you reopen your school safely. These guidelines are meant to align with your local state recommendations and the:
- Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC)
- Department of Education
- Environmental Protection Agency
1. Develop a COVID-19 Task Force
Before reopening your school, it’s important to have a strategic plan that specifically addresses COVID-19. Part of this plan should be creating a COVID-19 task force that:
- Defines roles and responsibilities
- Develops internal and external communications
- Creates an illness response procedure
2. Follow Health Protocols and Use a Screening Process
Put measures in place at your school to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One crucial task will be enforcing social distancing guidelines and requiring face masks when it’s not possible. Making sure staff and students aren’t sick or showing symptoms before they enter the building is also essential. Consider taking temperatures and requesting your employees to complete a health questionnaire.
Research all the steps you can take to keep your school as safe as possible. Common COVID-19 mandates include:
- Not sharing objects or equipment amongst students. If you have to, sanitize each object before giving it to another student.
- Cohorting, or keeping the same group of students together, to help limit the risk of a potential outbreak.
- Posting signs to remind students and staff to social distance and practice good hand hygiene.
3. Make Changes to the Facilities
With social distancing and other recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus, you’ll likely have to make changes to your school. This may include:
- Modifying classrooms
- Using air filters
- Requiring students to travel in specified directions in the hallways
4. Develop a Sanitation Plan
With students, staff, teachers and faculty walking around the school during the day, you need to have a proper sanitation plan in place that:
- Includes a rigorous cleaning schedule
- Ensures frequently touched surfaces get cleaned throughout the day
- Addresses the use of hand sanitizer and where to access it in the school
5. Addressing Transportation to Limit COVID-19 Exposure
Make sure your school has a plan in place for students that take the bus. This may require partnering with your transportation vendor. Let your students and staff know that carpooling shouldn’t happen unless people live in the same household.
6. Provide Training and Continuous Education on COVID-19
Your staff should know about COVID-19 and how it can spread. Make sure they’re aware of new protocols in place to help reduce the risk of exposure. When you’re creating training for your staff, they should know:
- What to do if someone tests positive for COVID-19
- How to report a suspected case of COVID-19
- The proper use of personal protective equipment and disinfectants
- CDC: Interim Guidance for School Administrators
- CDC: Cleaning and Disinfecting for Schools
- CDC: Schools, Child Care, and Colleges - Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention
- State and Local Health Officials
More for Our Customers
Find more information and helpful risk engineering resources by logging into our Risk Engineering Customer Portal.