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Personal Protective Equipment in schools and what to expect

Personal Protective Equipment in schools - clear masks

Personal Protective Equipment in schools and what to expect

Personal protective equipment in schools – No-one can be in any doubt that if schools re-open on 1 June, they won’t be running in the same way as they did before Lockdown. Nowhere else is, so why should schools be the exception?

Cleaning in Schools

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently published guidance as to how schools should be cleaned, which, in brief, is that every surface should be cleaned and then cleaned again with bleach or an alcohol disinfectant.

Cleaning should be undertaken by someone wearing full personal protective equipment in schools. Undoubtedly, cleaners wearing full personal protective equipment in schools will need to be on hand to clean throughout the day.

Personal protective equipment in schools operational guidelines

The key guidelines are that there should be one-way systems, divided corridors and staggered breaks. Class sizes will be halved, there will be no Lego or similar toys, and desks will be two metres apart.

There will be no artwork on the walls because the virus can live for up to 24 hours on paper and cardboard and these are surfaces that cannot be secured.

Written work won’t be marked for a minimum of 24 hours to help prevent the virus spreading to teachers. Children will only be allowed to go to the toilet one at the time, at scheduled times.

Someone will clearly have to accompany children on their toilet visits, and they will need at least some personal protective equipment. And, of course, provision will need to be made for children to wash their hands regularly.

The Health Secretary, Gavin Williams, has said that individual schools can have some flexibility in following the government guidelines. The intention is to take a similar approach to schools in Denmark, which began a phased return to education in April.

The WHO guidelines advise teachers to teach young children the new behaviours by using ‘games, songs and repetition.’

Teaching staff reaction

However, not all teachers are happy for their pupils to be returning. One headteacher said that some parents are eager for their children to return to school because they think it will be better for their overall health and well-being, but doesn’t agree with this view.

The head feels that the fact that much equipment will have to be removed and that teachers will not be able to sit beside pupils who need help (or, if they do, they will have to wear full personal protective equipment, which some children may find intimidating) is not good for children.

If a child is injured or has a toilet accident, how will teachers deal with it? Yet again, it would seem that they will need full personal protective equipment in schools.

Teachers are concerned that they won’t be able to help young children to do the normal things such as take a lid off a bottle or to allow them to play with their favourite cuddly toys; things that are important in building trust with young children.

They won’t be able to engage in the kind of activities that young children need to enable them to learn. It will, without doubt, be a very different teaching environment to that which was closed down in March.

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