We have seen many debates around our school both locally and globally. Schools are something that every region of our world has in common. These community centres not only place of learning but they serve communities around the world as healthcare centres, food centres, safe havens, sanctuaries and so many other things for our children. For this reason, schools must be kept safe and open. The Secretary-General of the United Nations wants school around the world to open for our children.
Last month, over 1 billion students were affected by #COVID19 school closures.
Even before the pandemic, the world was facing a learning crisis.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) August 4, 2020
The UN estimates that the pandemic has affected more than one billion students worldwide.
Despite efforts to continue learning during the crisis, including through delivering lessons by radio, television and online, many are still not being reached.
The UN chief said learners with disabilities, members of minority or disadvantaged communities, as well as refugees and displaced persons, are among those at highest risk of being left behind.
Even those students who can access distance learning face challenges, as success depends on their living conditions, and other factors such as fair distribution of domestic duties.
One of the lead doctors of the World Health Organization Maria Van Kerkhove said it very well when she stated that “Infections must be under control before school an be open.” If infections of COVID19 are spiking and climbing it can be dangerous to have our children in school. Our classrooms will only help spread the virus and hurt our community. So there must be a balance so school have a safe have for our children. Local, here in North America the main function of our schools is a safe place for us to leave our children while we go to work so we can earn money to pay our bills and provide a loving home for our children until they are ready to carry our society to new levels and reach out further into the discovery of our Universe.
Here are some practical things that we can do to keep our schools safe no matter where we are in the world.
We must make sure that the number of infections is down in our community before we open the schools. While children, in general, do not suffer the extreme symptoms that adults do. Children can be infected with COVID19. They can carry the virus home and thus infect every person inside that house. Children over the age of 10 also suffer from the same symptoms as adults. A single infection inside a school can lead to a large community outbreak.
School should be provided with the ability to not just screen children for illness but they should have the ability to test every person on the campus for COVID19. We should not send our children to school if they feel ill. Keep children home if they are sick. Testing can for both children and teachers can be essential in early detections of an outbreak and aid in contact tracing and breaking the lines of transmission. These will also help prevent healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
Physical distancing measures should be in place. This may be hard to do in young people because they are going to want to play. In this case, our healthcare providers have contact tracing to help inform parents of the potential dangers of infections and outbreaks. If we keep our classroom number low and keep children in small pods the spread of infection can be managed.
Handwashing and hygiene are going to paramount as parents and teachers we are going to have to impress on the children to wash their hands and to cough and sneeze into sleeves. Hand sanitizers are a good tool when soap and water are not available. Teaching good hygiene practices can help us break chains of infection. The Virus that causes COVID19 can live on surfaces for over two weeks so when clean them with sanitizer leave the surface wet and allow it to air dry. When hand sanitizers are used allow the hands to air dry. We can dry our hands when cleaning our hands with soap and water.
We must make every person in the classroom wear a mask. The mask serves as a barrier to help keep everyone’s droplets to themselves. One of the ways of spreading the infection is by coming into contact with another person’s droplets. They are formed as we breathe and talk. When breathing and talking while still and in a seated conversation are droplet can travel up to 2 metres. This not the case in a classroom situation the teacher is trying to make themselves heard to the classroom. Even if the room is equipped with a speaker system a teacher’s droplets can travel past the 2 metres point. The same for a student trying to answer or ask a question.
When school opens the following should be in place.
- Control spikes of infection
- Available and Rapid Testing
- Hand Washing
- Physical Distancing Measures
- Wear a mask while in the classroom
As good citizens in each of our communities we should be asking our healthcare and elected officials are the 5 measures in place as schools are opened. Our human and global society depends on our young people going to school so they can learn and continue to build our society to reach new levels of greatness.
In the following press conference, the experts at the PAHO answered the question we ask around how to safely open our school.