To support national policies on testing, contact tracing and isolating, schools should be in communication with local health authorities. Where local policies stipulate, school administration should notify health officials of positive COVID-19 cases identified within the school community. Schools should keep parents and teachers informed about the measures the school is putting in place and ask for their cooperation – inclusive and early collaboration between the school and the community is needed to develop and implement necessary measures.
While schools may not have the capacity to conduct tests themselves, they should do the following:
- Encourage students, teachers, and other school staff with key symptoms like cough and fever to stay home and get tested if possible. Schools may decide to conduct temperature checks on those entering the school building. In the event that symptoms are identified during school hours, a procedure should be in place for separating sick students and staff from those who are well – without causing stigma – and for informing parents/caregivers and consulting with health care providers/health authorities wherever possible. Students/staff may need to be referred directly to a health facility, depending on the situation, or sent home.
- Encourage students, teachers and other school staff with a family member showing symptoms to stay home and get tested if possible. Reinforce that caregivers should alert the school and health care authorities if someone in their home has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and should keep their child at home for 14 days after the onset of symptoms in the patient. Flexible attendance and sick leave policies should be in place that encourage students and staff to stay home when sick or when caring for sick family members.
- Ensure that students, teachers, and other school staff who test positive for COVID-19 relay school contacts, and advise that these contacts should stay home or get tested (if possible).
- Monitor absence daily. If higher-than-usual absence amongst students and teachers is noticed, inform health authorities immediately.
Guidance should be clearly communicated to children and family members in the appropriate local language, including pictorially if literacy levels are low.
Want to know more about COVID-19 control strategies for open schools:
- What actions should schools take to reduce transmission of COVID-19?
- How can person-to-person transmission be reduced in schools?
- How can we reduce surface related transmission of COVID-19 in schools?
- How can schools share age-appropriate information on COVID-19?
- Are there COVID-19 specific considerations for school feeding programmes?
Written by: Julie Watson
Last updated: 13.07.2020