It’s time for schools in the US to prepare themselves to counter a possible corona virus outbreak.
State and local educational agencies must start collaborating with health agencies to understand the nature of the spread, understand critical information about the disease and focus on what needs to be done to prevent its introduction into communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has brought out interim guidance based on what’s currently known about the nature of the corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It has also specially mentioned the roles schools can play in disseminating information about COVID -19 and its potential transmission with the school community.
While health officials have the responsibility to take all measures to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus in communities across the US, schools must continue to collaborate, share information, and even review plans with local health officials to help protect the whole school community.
Should school administrators be worried about COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel virus. Concerns have been raised about the outbreak in the US and the repercussions if communities are affected. Imported cases of the disease have been found in the US, forcing communities, like schools, to go on high alert to counter its spreading.
How can schools prevent it?
To prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 – about which not much is known and no vaccine found – students, teachers, parents, and school administrators must avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it.
Stopping transmission through everyday practices has been suggested as one of the best ways to keep everyone healthy and ensure students have safe and healthy learning environments.
There are several measures that schools can take to prepare themselves for an outbreak.
- Develop an outbreak response/pandemic plan, if there isn’t one. Review and update the existing plan and share it with stakeholders.
- Organize training sessions to sensitize staff or members on preventive measures.
- Prepare for potential school closures, dismissals or cancellation of school events.
- Prepare to offer home instruction to students.
- Get in touch with local public health officials and identify points of contact.
- Prepare processes to send back home students and staff who become sick at school or arrive at school sick.
- Put in place an emergency communication plan and maintain up-to-date contact information for everyone in your communication chain.
- Form a leadership team, identify essential staff functions, assign tasks and responsibilities.
- Continue to monitor current information from health officials.
How can school nurses pitch in?
Nurses in school districts have an integral role to play. They’ve to sensitize students about the disease, and also dispel the fear that students may have developed towards it.
They can do this by urging students to adopt healthy everyday preventive practices like:
- Avoiding contact with sick people
- Not touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Staying at home if sick
- Using tissues while sneezing and discarding them after a single use
- Using disinfectants
- Using face-masks
- Washing hands with soap and water
- Using hand sanitizers
Nurses must also establish communication with parents to regularly check-in on ill students. They should also inform parents when a child falls ill while at school and take immediate next steps. They should keep tabs on students who have traveled to affected countries and coordinate with parents and the health department on when the student can re-enter the school.
Nurses also need to maintain constant contact with doctors, other health workers as well as pharmacies to communicate emergencies and ensure that healthcare of their schools is well taken of.
They must organize cleanliness drives, lead the establishment of preventive practices, and maintain up-to-date information and documentation on the status of the health of students as well as teachers.
It is also important for them to update themselves on the latest measures that schools need to take to safeguard the health of students and communities.
How can Eduhealth help?
Nurses are the primary point of care for students in school districts and they need to be proactively involved in countering the spread of the disease.
A tool like Eduhealth will help nurses carefully monitor students’ health by managing documentation and communication on one single platform.
Nurses will be able to update students’ health information on their profiles and pass on messages to parents, doctors or healthcare workers.
With Eduhealth, nurses will be able to stay on top of their students’ healthcare requirements and ensure the right steps are taken to effectively protect their schools and communities against attacks from deadly viruses.