Tips on Returning to School Safely this Fall
On September 1, students will be back in full swing this fall with in-person classes, extra curricular activities, and sporting events. Even though it is exciting to be back to some semblance of normality, some students and families may be worried about an increased chance of getting COVID-19 or other illnesses from their peers and teaching staff.
The Province of Alberta has released a set of guidelines that schools will be following when reopening:
Students and staff will be screened daily for symptoms using the Alberta Health Daily Checklist
Students and staff will need to isolate if they have core COVID-19 symptoms or test positive
Everyone will need to follow best practices to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses
Some schools have the space and capacity to continue physical distancing, cohorting, and masking requirements, but not all schools do
FESA has also expanded its search to find information from different health authorities, such as the Mayo Clinic and the WHO, to come up with a more detailed list of steps you can follow to ensure you and your family are kept safe during the return to in-person classes.
Steps to Stay Safe
1. Get Vaccinated
CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19. You can book an appointment for your child, if they are 12 years of age or older, through Alberta Health Services. This is the safest way to ensure that your child(ren) are as safe as possible against COVID-19 and its variants. Although, you should still be practicing other protective measures — like wearing a mask and social distancing — even after receiving both vaccinations.
2. Practice Safe Social Distancing & Wear a Mask
Encourage your children to follow these social distancing guidelines:
Instead of high fiving, first bumping, or hugging friends, consider just saying hi or "bumping" elbows
Try to keep a 2 meter (6 feet) distance between other students and staff in the hallways and in classrooms
Try to limit the amount of things being shared with other classmates
Wear a mask in the classroom, at assemblies, and during other big community events
Schools should also consider implementing the following social distancing measures:
Eliminating lockers or grouping them by student groups, or cohorts
Creating one-way traffic in school hallways
Using outdoor spaces when possible for instruction, meals and recess
Reducing the number of children on school buses
Spacing desks out and having them all face in the same direction
Using physical barriers, such as plexiglass shields and partitions, to separate educators and students
Dividing students up into distinct groups or cohorts that stay together during the school day and reducing interaction between different groups
Restrict or manage flow of people in common areas including hallways, entrances/foyers (for example, with entry and exit procedures)
In narrow hallways or aisles of the setting, encourage unidirectional travel where possible by painting or placing arrows on the ground
Establish a process for essential visits, for example, parents/guardians picking up children outside of drop-off/pick-up hours where physical distancing can be maintained
3. Stay Home if You're Sick
"Every day before going to school, check for symptoms of illness, especially COVID-19 symptoms, such as new-onset cough or shortness of breath. If you are sick, avoid spreading germs by staying home from school or other activities." — Mayo Clinic
Common symptoms ofCOVID-19 include:
Nasal congestion or runny nose
Shortness of breath
Nausea or vomiting
New loss of taste or smell
4. Clean Hands Frequently
Wash your hands with soap and water, or apply and use hand sanitizer frequently. For appropriate use of hand sanitizer, follow these steps:
Apply one to two squirts of sanitizer to the palm of one hand ― enough to cover all surfaces of the hands.
Rub the sanitizer over all the surfaces of hands, fingers and nails until dry. This should take at least 20 seconds.
Keep a to-go size hand sanitizer container nearby.
5. Disinfect High Touch Surfaces
"Whether your child is being schooled at home or at school, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces can help reduce the risk of illness. This includes frequently touched items such as doorknobs, faucets, keyboards, tablets and phones." — Mayo Clinic
6. Have Mental Health Check-ins
"In a situation like this it is normal to feel sad, worried, confused, scared or angry. Know that you are not alone and talk to someone you trust, like your parent or teacher so that you can help keep yourself and your school safe and healthy. Ask questions, educate yourself and get information from reliable sources.
Don’t stigmatize your peers or tease anyone about being sick; remember that the virus doesn’t follow geographical boundaries, ethnicities, age or ability or gender." — WHO