How can your school stay safe and save money during covid-19 lockdown?
For teachers, pupils and parents in the UK at the moment, things are tough. In the wake of another lockdown, schools are facing some serious challenges. Despite the guidelines, which some feel are unclear, many schools have no choice but to take in a relatively high volume of students.
As a result they are now responsible for keeping staff and pupils safe while school continues. But how do you do that effectively whilst fielding a smaller number of staff and budgets are stretched?
We’ve assessed the situation and come up with some helpful suggestions below. What is the situation currently facing UK schools?
We all know about the threat of Covid-19. What many don’t realise is that for schools, the pressure has heightened as a result of recent lockdown measures.
Currently guidelines are that children of key workers can attend school. Recent amendments have stated that where one parent is a key worker and the other is not working, then the child should stay at home.
But we know it’s not always that simple and these are still just suggestions. Plus, the list of key or critical workers has grown significantly since last Spring.
With almost 40 different roles across 8 sectors, there will be some schools which now have a disproportionately large number of students in attendance.
Indeed, because of this increase and the lack of clarity around what is allowed, some schools are seeing an average of 30% of their pupils in attendance.
There is currently no mandated limit on how many students can attend and the number is left up to the discretion of the school.
Teachers are vulnerable and not being vaccinated
The problem is compounded by the lack of availability of school staff. If teachers are unable to work due to illness or self-isolation then there is a limit to the number of pupils the school can accept. As a result of this some schools are operating a waiting list.
Not only this but teachers are not currently on the priority list for vaccination meaning they cannot continue their roles knowing they are safe. Matt Hancock has recently responded to calls for this to change, saying that they stand a good chance of being added soon, but as things stand nothing has changed.
Student and Teacher safety must be prioritised
So where does this leave us?
The situation may not change in the short term and with the threat of the virus likely to stay around for most of this year, schools must adapt.
Taking precautions is essential. Fortunately, there are some things you can do. With budgets stretched due to needing extra supplies to fight against Covid-19 and teacher availability not guaranteed, hopefully these can help.
- Make use of government funding
If you weren’t already aware, government funding is available for Covid related costs.
The government is providing some funding for schools unable to cover the costs of Covid-19 supplies such as cleaning products, sanitiser and PPE.
They also have some money allocated to help with extra cleaning costs if more cleaning hours are needed or external cleaners are employed.
Head here to find out what is available, whether your school is eligible to claim and how to access the funding.
- Make the most of your hand sanitiser
One of the biggest costs facing schools is the increased use of hand sanitiser amongst pupils and teachers. If it’s being used at a high frequency, it doesn’t take long to get through it. So there needs to be a balance between encouraging use, but avoiding excess costs and wastage. This is key to ensuring sustainable hand hygiene.
An effective way of doing this is developing a rhythm and routine in your classes for sanitizing hands. Making this a part of your day and doing it in a controlled manner means that it is more likely to have an effect and won’t be wasted.
For young kids particularly, coming up with a song or story to repeat whilst doing it is a fun way of increasing compliance and making it more effective. A high-quality sanitiser, either one that has a high alcohol content (and moisturising qualities) or a non-alcohol alternative that has been tested to effectively kill viruses, should be used.
A good sanitiser will effectively kill all known germs quickly and without the need for excessive dosing. In some cases, hand sanitisers that contain certain active ingredients (such as Benzalkonium Chloride) can retain its effectiveness for several hours, reducing the need for it to be used as frequently.
- Position your hand sanitiser effectively
Placement of your sanitiser dispenser has a big impact on how much it is used and therefore how effective it is at stopping the spread of infectious disease on your premises. It makes sense that placing dispensers at boundaries is going to increase the chances that someone will use it.
Cheeky plug time. Our product PullClean is a door handle with an inbuilt sanitiser dispenser. So, it fits the bill perfectly. Anyone walking through a door has the option to sanitise their hands. You can find out more here on how it could work for your school.
- Prioritise using the best products
An area that you could change and will have a big impact is the way cleaning is done in your school. When hiring cleaning staff you have less control over the type of products being used. Using effective products that have been officially tested to kill known germs is important and worth looking into.
If you are unsure whether the products you’re using are effective, you can check them against official standards here. This is a really useful resource.
- Use fogging to disinfect rooms
Another sure-fire way of having a more effective and less time consuming deep clean is using other cleaning methods such as fogging.
Fogging works by releasing a fine mist of disinfectant solution into a room. It then settles and quickly evaporates, killing the germs and in some cases leaves a residual barrier to stop new germs forming.
Full coverage is not 100% guaranteed but for the most even application, ensure surfaces are tidy and not hidden or covered. Yes, this method can be more expensive and will need to be done outside of school hours but with the time saved and consistent results delivered it’s definitely worth trying.
Sanitising Anti-viral surface products such asthis one have been formulated to work in fogging machines and provide long lasting protection.
Safety starts at home
Obviously, the best possible scenario from a safety point of view is that more kids would stay at home until everyone has been vaccinated. This isn’t always possible though so for the children who do go into school, there are some things we can do.
By considering the strategies mentioned above and educating children to develop healthy routines at home, parents can help them prepare for the new school day.
Covid-19 has shown just how vulnerable we as a society are to harmful infection. Having effective permanent infection control measures in place will provide a smarter and safer tomorrow for students and teachers. If you want a regular source of the latest Covid-safe news, guidance and information, join our mailing list for more content like this every month.
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