Health measures at schools to ensure students safety

Muscat: The Ministry of Education released on its electronic portal the health procedures for schools that cover students, parents, school administration, teachers, bus drivers, care providers in health and nutrition fields, and visitors.

The document lists measures in the event of COVID-19 infection or suspected infection in public or private schools. This will be applied during the first semester for this year that is to begin on November 1. There has been a delay in the opening of schools due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The mode of education during the time would be blended in all the schools, as decided by the government.

The supervisory committees formed in the general directorates of education in the governorates will carry out a set of tasks to ensure the implementation of health protocol in the schools, classifying schools according to their student strength, and activating the hotline between the directorate’s supervisory committee and the main committee, schools and health institutions and the ministry. This is aimed at monitoring the detection of new cases and other developments in the schools.

  • Entrance mechanism

The administrative and academic bodies are vested with the responsibilities of preparing the school buildings and classrooms to receive students, allocating a work team inside the schools that will direct students upon their arrival to the equipped entrance gates, assuring the availability of temperature measuring devices, and setting guide panels to direct entry of students.

The school administration must also assure the presence of a teacher for the first hour in the classroom before the arrival of the students to salute the flag and chant the national anthem and then provide an integrated awareness material for students on the first day of school.

The administration department has to meet with school bus drivers to introduce them to parking areas, asking them to wear masks and achieving physical distancing all the time. The classrooms must be well-ventilated and equipped with a school clinic as an isolation room with all necessary equipment.

  • Nutrition at school

The ministry noted that parents should prepare a healthy meal for their children as per health requirements. The school is to set up a suitable mechanism for the break period according to what the administration deems appropriate.

For the first cycle students (1-4), in the event of bringing a meal from home, the teacher should take the students to the queue yard to have their food while maintaining physical distancing. For the students who don’t bring meals from home, they are taken to the school canteen to buy a meal. The canteen in-charge should prepare healthy, well-packed meals.

As for students from grades 5-12, the break will be held within the classroom in the presence of the teacher. Yet, they are allowed to go out in the schoolyard while maintaining physical distancing.

The process of buying and selling in canteens should be done with full precautionary measures.

  • Visitors

The ministry affirmed that the school visitors must coordinate with the school administration for any visit. They have to follow all the precautionary measures and adhere to wearing masks and maintain physical distancing. The visit should be as short as possible and documented electronically with the school administration.

  • School bus drivers

The ministry has asked the bus drivers to wear masks, organise proper boarding and dropping procedures, maintain physical distancing, clean bus seats and stands with alcohol-based disinfectants every morning after students get off at the end of the day.

They have been requested to ventilate the buses before and after each transfer of students. The school admin is to find an appropriate mechanism that relieves students from crowding in the school bus to achieve physical distancing, and not allow students to board if they are not wearing the mask except for the first cycle students.

In case the bus drivers feel any surprise symptoms among any of the students, they must inform the school administration immediately.

  • Cleaning companies

According to the ministry’s guidelines, the cleaning companies are requested to provide sanitary tools in the schools. All cleaning workers must wear masks and gloves and follow the required precautionary and preventive measures. The company must ensure the availability of hand soap in schools’ toilets, commit to periodically disinfect the surfaces of the school with disinfectants approved by the Ministry of Health. If the workers feel any surprise symptoms, they must inform the school administration immediately.