COVID-19 ushers in a new set of regulations for parents and students. These necessary adjustments create a “new normal” and include changes to the structure of classrooms, safety measures, as well as overall operations.
Schools provide more than academics for their students. In addition to the core curriculum, kids develop social and emotional skills, are able to get exercise, and are given access to mental health support; things they cannot always find at home. For many children and families, schools are de facto child care and offer access to the internet and other vital services.
Schools’ Current Approach to Risk
The current global COVID-19 pandemic directly challenges how we educate our children. To mitigate risks, schools have shifted to virtual learning. Each school chooses one of three tactics to incorporate into their safety and action plans.
- “Enhanced” in-person schooling. Traditional schooling is enhanced with proactive preventative health and safety measures as well as procedures.
- Distance learning or virtual learning. Technology such as video conferencing and live video streams allow students to log in to class from their home. This requires students to have computers and/or media at home.
- Hybrid schooling. Schools combine distance and in-person approaches. Many institutions consider this as an intermediary step. School districts monitor their area for COVID-19 infections dictating in-person versus virtual classes.
Just as notepads and pencils are synonymous with traditional learning, computers and internet connectivity are essential for distance learning. 1 in 5 teens cannot complete schoolwork at home because they do not have a computer or internet connection. Parents must find or buy these items regardless of their economic status.
The shift to distance learning requires an adult to be home more frequently. Parents must either allocate time away from their jobs or pay for in-home child care. Occasionally the situation warrants the children to be unsupervised at home.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Schools
Children learn best in a classroom setting. They interact, form connections and absorb information better than remotely. PPE addresses our needs to educate in schools while keeping students safe.
Schools must place PPE at the center of their safety plans.
- Cover all areas: Classrooms, desks, restrooms, entrances and exits.
- Offer ‘basic’ supplies such as hand sanitizer, face shields and masks or other face coverings for students and faculty.
- Offer ‘advanced’ supplies such as desk barriers, bathroom barriers, directional floor stickers, and self-cleaning surfaces.
These protocols are amplified as Winter approaches and open or outdoor classrooms are less likely.
Vaccination and the Future of PPE
Kids can, and do, acquire the virus based on the discussion of the trends among school-aged children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Positive cases among children tend to be asymptomatic. However, asymptomatic carriers hold a higher risk of spreading infection.
With the COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, many wonder if PPE use will continue after the vaccination is more widely available. This is a new virus and a new vaccine, there are too many variables and safety cannot be taken lightly. People will continue to use PPE, especially at events, and public gatherings to ensure safety measures across the population.
How Can ThermoPro Help?
Our new PPE product line that is perfect for schools.
Protective barriers. These are sturdy and portable, a simple and effective way to keep germs at bay and help both students and staff feel safe. They are molded with an attractive curve and include decorative black feet for extra stability. These barriers are made of industrial-strength PETG plastic and are lightweight, fully portable, and easy to clean and disinfect.
Floor decals. This product is a classic way to promote proper spacing during the reopening of schools across the country. They are made from the same high-durable vinyl used in car wraps. With a clear laminate coating, the colors stay vibrant and the decals hold up to extended foot traffic. And more importantly, they are easy to sanitize.
These can be customized to include the school mascot and serve as a friendly reminder that precautions need to be taken.
Bathroom barriers are an attractive, economical way to add protection to your restrooms. Sneezing and coughing happen everywhere. Barriers help your students and staff feels safe at all times.
A collective effort between parents, kids, administrators, and suppliers is a crucial step in preparedness and implementation of quality PPE in schools. Head back to school in 2021 with an extra layer of protection.