CDC’s Back to School Recommendations and What it Means for Your School District
Although it feels as if it has only just begun, before long summer will come to an end and a new school year will be right around the corner. Preparing for a new school year is a stressful time for educators, and that stress has only been intensified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying that this school year is going to look and feel a bit different than one’s past, and educators have a lot to consider when developing a plan for opening their districts back up safely.
We here at Script are experts at helping you run your school more efficiently, not public health. For that, we look to the amazing people at the CDC that have been working tirelessly to help teachers, students, and administrators get back to school in the fall. This article is a short summary of some of the main points and recommendations the CDC has put forward for school districts to consider when developing reopening plans. The entire CDC COVID resource can be found on the CDC website.
Educate Students and Staff About Staying Home When Appropriate
The Perfect Attendance Award has been a staple of the school system since anyone can remember, and students are often proud of their ability to miss as little school days as possible throughout the year and achieve this highest of honors. However, promoting a culture of perfect attendance for both students and faculty may not be the best idea this school year. If students or staff have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has or believes to have the virus, it is extremely important that those people be encouraged to stay home and monitor their symptoms before returning back to campus.
The rapid switch between a culture that discourages absences to one that encourages them when appropriate can be difficult for some of your students and staff to adopt. Educating students, staff, faculty, and their families about any updated policies that allow for absences without the fear of reprisal is integral to maintaining a safe learning environment for everyone involved.
Emphasize Proper Hygiene Practices
By now I think we all know that one of the best way to protect yourself from the coronavirus is to wash your hands regularly and wear a face mask if you are in a situation in which you cannot socially distance yourself from others. Although these practices seem obvious, the emphasis that has been placed on them recently is still new to many people, especially children. Placing signage that reminds students and faculty on how to best protect themselves and others from becoming sick can be placed in high traffic and high touch areas such as hallways, bathrooms, and cafeterias to remind everyone of these recommendations. Attached below are a few of the signs available for free on the CDC website that can be used in your school today:
Clean and Disinfect High-Touch Objects and Surfaces
Custodians generally do a fantastic job of keeping schools clean, however, they may need some help from teachers, faculty and even students this school year. One of the best ways to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is to regularly clean and disinfect high-touch objects and surfaces. Examples may include doorknobs, countertops, desks, chairs, and sinks to name a few. Making disinfecting products that contain at least 70% alcohol widely available in your school and encouraging everyone from administrators down to students to clean these surfaces after use can make play a big part in keeping everyone safe.
Designate a Single Point of Contact
There is no doubt that parents, students, and employees are going to bring up a number of questions and concerns about these new school policies being put in place. With all of this confusion, it is recommended that schools designate a single point of contact for all of these inquiries, ensuring that they are responded too quickly and correctly. Your point of contact may be a single person or even a small department, but whatever it is be sure to make it widely known to everyone involved in your district as to who the point of contact is and how to get in touch with them if need be.
In addition to a single point of contact for questions and concerns, it is also important to delegate a staff member, most likely a school nurse, to be the point of contact for all instances of absences due to health concerns and positive COVID-19 test results from students and employees.
We’re Not Doctors — We Care
Again, we here at Script would never claim to be experts in the health field, and this article is simply a summary of what we felt were some of the most valuable suggestions put forth by the CDC as administrators begin to plan for the fall semester. We encourage you to view the complete collection of resources from the CDC regarding the reopening of schools for more information.
We know things are tough right now, but like every obstacle educators have encountered in the past, we will get through this together. From all of us at Script, we wish you a happy and healthy start to your school year.