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Back to School in 2021 : Keeping Children Safe and Living Well
27 Jan' 21

Back to School in 2021 : Keeping Children Safe and Living Well

 

Back to school in 2021: keeping children safe and living well 

No matter where you live if you're a parent you are probably thinking about how COVID-19 will affect back-to-school. How will the early weeks and remaining months of the school year look? How flexible will we need to be? Most likely, health recommendations for India and state and local rules will continue to evolve. Below, we’ll review the current recommendations for keeping schools and children safe as everyone returns to classrooms in the coming weeks, and explain what families can do outside of school to reduce the risk of infection even further.
 
Government recommendations for safer school 
 
  • Tamil Nadu health department released an SOP that has mandated screening of all school students within a weeks' time 
  • According to the guidelines issued by the government, schools have been asked to ensure that only 50% of students are allowed at a time. The guidelines also mandate 100 percent vaccination of teachers and other staff working in the schools. All students, within the eligible group, visiting the schools will also have to be vaccinated.
  • Before reopening, the schools have been asked to sensitize students, parents, teachers, community members and hostel staff on the preventive measures of Covid-19 through online and offline modes such as pamphlets, letters, public announcements systems in villages, urban wards, etc.
  • Each school will be assigned to health inspectors and block health supervisors/non-medical supervisors and every school, including private institutions, will have to monitor the changes in the SOPs.
  • All deputy directors of the health services have been instructed to coordinate with the school authorities to ensure they are reopened following SOPs released by the government.
  • The guidelines also mentioned Mobile Medical Units (MMU) will be made available in the blocks and their contact details will be shared with the schools for use in cases of emergency.
  • Symptomatic students and teachers will not be allowed and all Primary Health Centres (PHCs) have to be alerted to handle any suspected symptomatic children as per SOPs, the guidelines said.
  • A sufficient quantity of Vitamin C, Multivitamin tablets and other immunity boosters will also be provided to the students.
  • The schools have also been asked to ensure proper cleaning and sanitization facilities and have been told to arrange thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all furniture, equipment, stationery, storage places, water tanks, kitchens, canteen, washrooms, laboratories, libraries, etc on the school campuses and ensure airflow in indoor space.
  • Sanitization of school transports before they start plying also needs to be ensured.
  • At least six feet distance between students has to be ensured by the school management and schools were asked to even mark the seating arrangements for the students. If benches are used, “one student per bench” has to be maintained, the guidelines mention. Physical distancing has to be followed in staff rooms, official areas and other places of public interaction.
  • Schools that have temporary or outdoor spaces (in case of pleasant weather) can utilize them for conducting classes.

How can you protect your child and your family?
 
Encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. Available vaccines are safe and effective in preventing infection, especially severe infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. And the more people who are vaccinated, the fewer chances the virus has to evolve to develop future variants that currently available vaccines may be less effective against. If you have concerns about vaccines, call your doctor to talk about what worries you.
 
Consider wearing masks indoors in public settings even if you’re vaccinated, especially if you live in an area of substantial or high community transmission, as noted above.
 
If your child is vaccinated, be sure they understand the measures recommended to keep themselves and others safe, and why it’s important to follow these recommendations.
 
If your child is not yet eligible to be vaccinated, talk with them about the importance of wearing a mask when indoors, good hand hygiene, and staying at a distance from others when possible.
 
Discuss with your family the importance of staying home and trying to isolate yourself from others if you don’t feel well, even if symptoms seem mild.

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