JUST BEFORE YOU REOPEN
YOUR SCHOOL DOORS
BEFORE YOU REOPEN YOUR SCHOOL DOORS
We are aware states and countries are lifting the shutdown orders and as organizations gradually open their doors, employees are slowly returning to their workplaces. For some, it’s been skeletal services in the physical offices backed by lots of work still done virtually or remotely.
And now, the ultimate is about to happen! Schools may be resuming soon!
In Nigeria, the external examination classes (Year 6, JSS 3, and SS3 students) have been asked to consider resuming soon to enable them to prepare adequately to take their external examinations in their physical classrooms. There are no adequate facilities to cater to or accommodate the large numbers of students involved in these exams to take them online.
As an administrator or manager, you certainly cannot afford to just swing the doors of your school open and have staff and students resume, considering the times we are in. So, every process in your organisation needs to be rethought, because each step carries with it potential safety, health and even legal risks.
Therefore, my return-to-work recommendations would include the following, to keep everyone safe as much as lies within your power as an administrator:
Firstly, quickly send out a communication to the parents of the students involved in those classes involved -Year 6, JSS 3, and SS 3. Inform them officially of the plans for the resumption and kindly allay their fears about their children’s safety.
At this meeting, ensure to get their input and to listen attentively to their fears and concerns about bringing their children back to school. The fears will be heightened if you operate a boarding house. You need to be prepared for those who may be too scared to bring their children back to school despite the orders for reopening. The fact is, people are reacting differently to the directive and it’s a parent’s right to decide whether they would want their child to resume at this point or not.
Please ensure everything discussed at this meeting is properly documented and attendance is taken of all the parents who attend the meeting. Ensure they sign that they are fine with the decisions of the school as regards the safety put in place by your team. Always remember that this is about partnerships.
Secondly, ensure you put in place safety and hygiene measures. You must not compromise on the use of face shields. If the parents can afford it, then order for them as a school and charge parents for it to ensure compliance. And if your school can afford it, then invest in a sanitizing chamber for your gate. You do not want to take chances, do you? There should be points for washing hands and that meansn taps will need to be erected at strategic points in the school for hand washing. Handwashing liquids and hand sanitizers are a must-have. The school should get some and also ensure every child brings from home.
Please encourage face shields over those stuffy nose masks. I’ve almost choked myself having to wear them for hours. Not an easy thing to impose on children at all. And you can be sure they’ll yank the nose masks off once they get uncomfortable with them. You've worked with children long enough and you know how they do their stuff.
Then, of course, you’ll need to introduce operational changes in the school.
Everyone’s temperature should be taken daily before they are allowed into the classrooms.
Since time will be spent taking the temperature of the staff and students dailybefore they are allowed into the classrooms, then you should know by now that this will affect the daily timetable of activities. So reschedule the time table to something doable. There’s no point having a crammed up timetable for daily activities that are never met. This is the time to be realisitic.
Rearrange classrooms to enable social distancing. Since not all the children will be resuming at once, makeuse of all the classrooms in the school for the Primary 6, JSS 3, and SS 3 students. the recommendation is to have deks 6 feet apart from each other.
Should you need to use the school bus, please ensure every child and staff has his/her temperature taken before they are allowed into the bus. Also, ensure the adequate distance between each individual on the bus. As much as possible, let pickups and drop-offs be done by the parents of your students.
The previous point on clasrrom arrangement would mean that more teachers need to be around to handle the classes. So, you would want to use teachers of other classes to get the job done.
Their break times will need to be planned in a manner that you have one class at a time going out, and they file in a line to get back to their classes. Socil distancing has to be observed even at play time.
I recommend that you ask the children to bring their snacks and lunch packs from home.
By now you should know the School Nurses have to be present daily, and shouldthere be a need, the PHE teachers could assist in taking the temperature of the students and other staff. And that means you should have enough infrared thermometers to do this effectively.
You need to be extra careful with social distancing. Caring for the children while not making adequate provision for the staff will be ineffective. Remember they will be in touch with the children daily.
Ensure you have an Isolation Room for children or staff who run a high temperature.
There has to be a lot of sensitization and you’ll need to keep reminding everyone and enforcing the precautions. Make them policies that must be adhered to, and not just written on paper to impress stakeholders.
My professional contacts in the Uk have been very helpful in informing me of how they’re going about it. And we need to be reminded that it seems children are asymptomatic and can have the coronavirus infection without manifesting any symptoms, while they pass it on to others who are vulnerable. So as an administrator, you should be very cautious about social distancing.
Please be sure to comply with the directives given by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The School Nurses and other staff must be equipped with the phone numbers of the Emergency Contacts at the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) in your state. Visit http://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/contacts to get the info you need.
Thank you for reading.
Have I left out any details?
Please share what you have put in place, or are planning to do as your school resumes. You never know what may help someone else. We all need to stay safe whether at home or school.
Ensure you ahere to the guidelines given by the NCDC.
Nancy is a professional administrator, management consultant and life coach. She can be reached at +234-803-5880-367. And you may schedule an appointment with her at www.calendly.com/nancyekpezu. Have a tour of the website www.nancyekpezu.com to see the sevices her organisation Pezu Smith Consulting offers.
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