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What does social distancing and a hygiene regimen look like in schools right now?

The NSW department of education offers a closer look at its recommendations for schools in the state that has so far been worst-affected by coronavirus pandemic…

A frontline look at social distancing in schools

Mark Scott, Secretary of the Department of Education, visited one of NSW’s public schools to get a look at how staff are coping. Mark has worked as a teacher, in public administration and as a journalist and media executive. He writes… 

Today I visited Leichhardt Public School to see firsthand how our staff and students are coping with the new social distancing measures to control the COVID-19 virus.

The principal, Chris Beunen, told me the school has made some drastic changes to school drop-off routines, staggered lunch times to minimise the number of students in the playground at the same time, and a big focus on hygiene. Great to hear that students are taking those hygiene messages back home, too

We’re minimising the number of students in the playground at any point in time and maintaining a sense of normality so they’re enjoying coming to school, – Tim told me.

Schools are an essential service and our advice from health authorities is that schools should still stay open.

I want to thank all our school staff who really are at the frontline, working with students and parents during these unprecedented times.

You’re doing remarkable work at this time of great national effort to help secure the health and wellbeing of our country.

Health and hygiene advice to schools

The NSW Education Department has provided advice to schools on health and hygiene practices in schools to limit the spread of germs, including viruses, in school communities.

Cleaning and hygiene actions

  • Enhanced cleaning will take place in all schools from 18 March 2020.
  • We will continue to be in regular contact with all principals to understand current levels of supplies of soap and hygiene products.
  • All schools will receive additional provisions of soap and hygiene supplies, such as hand sanitiser.

Tidy surfaces for effective cleaning

To allow effective cleaning in our schools, we have asked staff to tidy workspaces and high traffic surfaces in learning spaces and staff areas.

  • Store all loose items off the floor level (where possible), including around desks and in non-teaching spaces.
  • Desks, worktables, and work benches must be clear of all paper, resources, equipment etc. This includes non-teaching spaces. Items such as telephones, computer equipment are not considered as obstructions and do not need to be removed.
  • All loose student work, art materials and resources that are normally stored on furniture in learning spaces should be stored in student tote trays and storage cupboards.
  • All sinks, troughs and workbenches in industrial arts and lab areas need to be clear of materials, resources and hazards to ensure cleaners can access these spaces.
  • Staffrooms – clear away all crockery, resources (including books and papers) and any food materials from all surfaces.

Help manage the spread of the virus

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  • Sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, disposing of the tissue straight away and then washing your hands.
  • Stay home if you are unwell and in schools, send home staff or students who show signs of being unwell through the day.

NSW Department of Education

This story was written by the NSW Department of Education. School News shares it with permission.

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