There is still some uncertainty with the current COVID 19 pandemic on what the education and classroom environment will look like in September 2020. However it is likely that when the schools do re-open there will be some social distancing measures to be adhered to. But what does this look like in practice?
With the sudden lockdown in March 2020 the landscape of the learning environment changed dramatically with a large majority of children having to adjust to home-based, online learning. With the ever changing advice and guidelines during these unpredictable times what can our education providers be doing to be able to provide a safe yet effective learning space.
It is understood that COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and quickly fall on floors or surfaces. Therefore most of the advice for schools, colleges and other education settings is to follow steps on social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures, and thorough cleaning of surfaces.
MAIN CONSIDERATIONS FOR SCHOOLS ON SOCIAL DISTANCING
- It is important that a efficient communication system is in place so that the school can communicate changes in a timely fashion to parents.
- To reduce the risk of transmission it is important that those that display any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) do not enter the school. This applies to children, parents, carers or any visitors, such as suppliers.
- Class sizes need to be kept as small as possible, wherever possible minimizing movement between groups, many schools are adopting the bubble concept keeping small groups of children together including Lunch times, break times.
- Some schools have repurposed spaces using gym halls as classrooms. Lab Fit have assisted in the design and refurbishment of school space to support the social distancing requirements.
- All staff and children are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently throughout the day. Everyone is advised not to touch their faces and must be told to use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste.
- All surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected – The Department for Education says it is putting in place a new process that allows schools to be reimbursed for costs that they face as a result of extra cleaning during this period.
In practice the social distancing guidelines whilst feasible are certainly going to be challenging when schools return to full capacity however returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their emotional wellbeing.
For full guidance on the return to full opening for schools refer to the government website .