Understanding Infection Prevention and Control measures in Schools and learning settings:
According to WHO, infection prevention and control (IPC) is a scientific approach and practical solution designed to prevent harm caused by infection to patients and health workers. It is grounded in infectious diseases, epidemiology, social science and health system strengthening.
IPC occupies a unique position in the field of patient safety and quality universal health coverage since it is relevant to health workers and patients at every single health-care encounter.
In the context of schools and learning settings as it relate to Primary-Secondary-Tertiary institutions, we need to consider measures that can contribute to limit the exposure to the disease and reduce the probability of its transmission amongst pupils, students, teachers and none- teaching staff at school. We must bear in mind that prevention measures at school, alone, will not prevent the disease from setting into an area, but increased vigilance and hygiene can at least contribute to reduce its spread.. In such context, the measures described below apply to affected areas where schools are re-opening
.As a result of secondary effects of the COVID-19 response o WASH-service initiatives in communities, schools must be effected subject to availability of water and sanitation providers . this also calls for measures that will guarantee WASH- service continuity, as long as schools are operating, to avoid pupil’s and student’s exposure to other infectious diseases and discomfort.
In all education settings, the COVID-19 emergency response requires a triangulated approach to inform (local government, primary –health board and Education), educate (Washservice team, Students) and provide the needed resources at all level. With support of Parent Teachers association.
Following recommendations according to NCDC, and which would apply to individual Handwashing, is “maintaining distance of approximately 6 feet or 2 meters from others when possible.”.
We will help to develop a simple system to monitor and report functionality of WASH services in supported schools, for a simple checklist to use, Inform and train pupils, students, teachers and none- teaching staff on simple IPC measures, in coordination with Local education and health authority and building on existing hygiene promotion programmes in schools, messages on adequate hygiene at school and at home must be communicated by developing, translating and disseminating simple and easily understood Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on COVID- 19, in local languages and for different age groups.
REQUEST FOR PROVISION OF WASH SERVICES IN SCHOOLS
There are two scenarios to be considered:
- Activities while schools resume back
In affected areas, Local government Education section, State Ministry of health in conjunction with State Ministry of Environment, and State Water Corporation would advocate for the need to consider the points below:
Availability of water remains crucial to support personal hygiene including hand washing with water and soap as a key preventive measure. Water should also be available for regular cleaning and disinfection purposes, laundry (when applicable) and other activities.
Ensure that water is available in schools in adequate quantity (safe water ideally, but quantity is of utmost importance to allow hygiene practices first) for the purpose of environmental cleaning and personal hygiene ( hand washing, etc); consider additional storage and transport of water where needed.
Water is available through on-site taps, or reservoir at the schools and containers filled regularly. Students, teachers and non- teaching staff are advised to use reusable drinking water bottles and avoid sharing cups or glasses. These should be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day at household level by parents or guardians.
– Whenever possible, provide drinking water stations with pedal-operated taps and devices or water dispensers with sensors to minimize hand contact and reduce the risk of infection; in most cases though, where standard taps are in use, ensure taps are regularly cleaned together with regular handwashing or provide paper towels to use when opening and closing taps and facilities for disposing of towels safely.
– Students, teachers and non- teaching staff should be trained on the safe management of drinking water points to avoid potential water contamination.
– Improve water safety with safe storage of treated water in regularly cleaned and covered containers in schools.
Hand hygiene and positive behavior change, or adaptation are key IPC measures for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 at school.
– Ensure the availability of hand washing stations with soap and water or hand sanitizers dispensers in schools ; the quantity of handwashing per students may vary, with the ideal being one handwashing station per classroom, near every door of toilet-bathroom,
– Where possible, children should only collect meals from school rather than stay at school to eat. It is recommended that meals be served in reusable boxes where possible.
- Schools should review their menu to ensure that they serve only hot meals. The survival of COVID-19 at different temperatures is not thoroughly researched. However, reheating food at a temperature of 149°F (65°C) for at least 3 minutes is recommended.
- Where pupils/students stay at schools to eat:
- They must wash their hands thoroughly with clean water and soap before and aftereating food and after visiting a toilet/ latrine. Handwashing facilities must be kept clean and sanitized to reduce the risk of infection.
- Space out tables and chairs in dining areas, so they are 2 meters apart.
- Limit the number of children who can come into the dining area at a single time.
- Where possible, children should be supplied with a one-time hygiene kit to be used allthe time for hand hygiene before and after meals.
- Utensils and cutlery must be kept clean and sanitized before use by cooks/chefs andpupils/students.
- Avail cloth, soap and water for cleaning/ disinfecting kitchen surfaces or at points ofcooking and waste bins/ bags.
- Food stores must be regularly kept clean by disinfecting surfaces twice a day. Keepwindows open to allow air flow when possible.
Environmental cleaning is a key IPC measure for preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Existing recommended cleaning and disinfection procedures in schools should be followed consistently and correctly. Surfaces and laundry (when applicable) in all environments where students, teachers and non- teaching staff spend time (classroom, dining, playrooms, staff rooms, dormitories, laboratories) should be disinfected. There are many disinfectants that are active against COVID-19. For schools, we recommend the use of commercial detergent with water, to remove dirt, followed by commercial chlorine-based disinfectants, ensuring a concentration equivalent to 0.1% of active chlorine for surfaces and 70% of ethyl alcohol for disinfection of objects.
- Cleaning and disinfection schedule should be established for each school.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects such as bells, playing materials, learning and teaching aids, using wet rag and a regular household cleaning spray with disinfectant.
- Wipe down often-touched surfaces such as door handles, window nobs, elevator buttons, lunch table, railings with wet rag or a household cleaning spray with disinfectant.
- Mop up classroom and bathroom-toilets with commercial detergent and disinfectant.
- Cleaning staff must be equipped with basic PPEs (boots, gloves, masks) and trained on safe toilets disinfection practices.
Proper collection, storage, transfer or elimination of waste in schools located in affected areas is important, particularly collecting and elimination tissues utilized for cough and sneezing, menstrual hygiene materials, used cleaning materials
- Whenever possible, pedal-operated waste collection bins with liners should be available at point of use in schools.
- In the absence of pedal-operated waste bins, otherwise, open waste containers are better than those which require physical opening/covering by hands as this will expose students, teachers and non-teaching staff to infection.
- waste and tissue used for cough/sneeze should be properly disposed off in bins located in girls, boys and teachers’ toilets, collected and eliminated safely on-site or transported in adequate landfill.
- In bigger schools, storage location to cater for large volumes can be arranged, together with transport mechanism in trucks and final disposal arrangements.
- Pit burning with the aid of fuel drops such as kerosene can be opted in the absence of incinerators, providing all safety measures for students are taken.
For further clarification
Kenny Odugbemi – 08032002585 – Kennyodugbemi28@gmail.com
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