FACTS ABOUT COVID-19
What is COVID-19? COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’ The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. How does COVID-19 spread? The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing). Individuals can also be infected from and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth). The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it. Who is most at risk? We are learning more about how COVID-19 affects people every day. Older people, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, appear to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms. As this is a new virus, we are still learning about how it affects children. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children. This is a new virus and we need to learn more about how it affects children. The virus can be fatal in rare cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical conditions. What is the treatment for COVID-19? There is no currently available vaccine for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and getting early care from a healthcare provider can make the disease less dangerous. There are several clinical trials that are being conducted to evaluate potential therapeutics for COVID-19.
How can the spread of COVID-19 be slowed down or prevented? As with other respiratory infections like the flu or the common cold, public health measures are critical to slow the spread of illnesses. Public health measures are everyday preventive actions that include: ✓ staying home when sick; ✓ covering mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissue immediately; ✓ washing hands often with soap and water; and ✓ cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects. As we learn more about COVID-19 public health officials may recommend additional actions.
The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and the virus has now spread to many countries and territories. While a lot is still unknown about the virus that causes COVID-19, we do know that it is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing) Individuals can also be infected from touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth). While COVID-19 continues to spread it is important that communities take action to prevent further transmission, reduce the impacts of the outbreak and support control measures.
The protection of children and educational facilities is particularly important. Precautions are necessary to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 in school settings; however, care must also be taken to avoid stigmatizing students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus. It is important to remember that COVID-19 does not differentiate between borders, ethnicities, disability status, age or gender. Education settings should continue to be welcoming, respectful, inclusive, and supportive environments to all. Measures taken by schools can prevent the entry and spread of COVID-19 by students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus, while minimizing disruption and protecting students and staff from discrimination.
Purpose Today, children and young people are global citizens, powerful agents of change and the next generation of caregivers, scientists, and doctors. Any crisis presents the opportunity to help them learn, cultivate compassion, and increase resilience while building a safer and more caring community. Having information and facts about COVID-19 will help diminish students’ fears and anxieties around the disease and support their ability to cope with any secondary impacts in their lives. This guidance provides key messages and considerations for engaging school administrators, teachers and staff, parents, caregivers and community members, as well as children themselves in promoting safe and healthy schools.
The purpose of this document is to provide clear and actionable guidance for safe operations through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in schools and other educational facilities. The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure requires many considerations but, if done well, can promote public health.
This extract is from a document that was written by Lisa Bender (Education UNICEF NYHQ), with technical support from the UNICEF COVID-19 Secretariat members (Carlos Navarro Colorado, Maya Arii & Hugo Razuri) as well as UNICEF WASH, C4D and Child Protection teams. Special thanks to Maida Paisic (UNICEF EAPRO), Le Anh Lan (UNICEF Vietnam), Tserennadmid Nyamkhuu (UNICEF Mongolia), Dr, Maria D Van Kerkhove (WHO) and Gwedolen Eamer (IFRC) for their close collaboration.
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR THE PREVENTION, CONTAINMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF COVID-19
We will take the following measures to ensure the safety of all once your child returns to school during the pandemic:
- All learners and employees will be screened using the NDOH COVID-19 procedure and questionnaire.
- Learners and employees will be informed, trained and instructed as to the correct use of cloth masks.
- A risk assessment will be conducted to identify categories of employees requiring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These employees will be provided with the accredited PPE in accordance with the Department of Health guidelines.
- Always try and maintain a physical/social distance of at least 1.5 metres with other students, where possible.
- Staggering break times -this will prevent a concentration of learners in common areas.
- Ensure that every learner, staff member and visitor wear a cloth mask or visor at all times.
- To avoid direct contact with others e.g. shaking hands or hugging.
- Frequently wash hands with water and soap. If water is not available, use a 70 percent alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Consult a healthcare facility if there is a suspected COVID-19 infection.
- Inform the education authorities immediately if a learner, educator, support staff or parent/caregiver has been in direct contact with an infected person, or if they are diagnosed with COVID-19
- School managers and staff members will stay informed about COVID-19 through reputable sources and share this information.
- Place signs or posters encouraging good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.
- Prepare and maintain handwashing stations with soap and water
- Place 70 percent alcohol-based hand sanitisers in each classroom, at entrances and exits.
- Orientation/ Life Skills subject as an education programme that will explain what COVID-19 is, the symptoms, how it is spread, how to prevent spreading it and emphasise the importance of when, why and how to wash hands correctly and to discourage all forms of stigma and discrimination.
- Ensure the thorough and regular cleaning of our school following the DBE Guidelines on Maintaining Hygiene in Schools
- Classrooms and especially water and sanitation facilities will be cleaned at least once a day (preferably twice) or as required.
- Surfaces that are touched frequently by many people (door handles, tables, sports equipment, toys and teaching and learning aids, etc.) will be cleaned more frequently.
- Making sufficient quantities of hand sanitisers, soap and disposable drying material available.
- Access control for parents and third parties or visitors
- Entry by visitors, parents, be prohibited unless it is essential.
- Strict access control measures are established and adhered to, including the signing of a register by all visitors.
- Should a visitor or parent need access, they will be screened, have to wear a face mask and sanitise their hands at the entry point.
- All visitors, except government officials, need to make an appointment and state the nature of their visit.
- Communication with parents will be via newsletters, telephone or emails, etc. to minimise meetings/gatherings with parents; and limited class-based parents’ meetings. NOTE: If it is necessary to meet parents, meetings will be limited to one parent per learner and will be in accordance with the social distancing restrictions.
- All staff will need to answer Covid-19 related questions before entering the workplace, temperature screened and sanitised.
- No food preparation will take place
- Children to bring all their own eating utensils
- An isolation room will be made available should a learner or staff be suspected of being infected.
The following remains the responsibility of parent of the learner to ensure the safety of all at school and to ensure the continuity of education. This is a social responsibility of consideration that lie with you and we trust that you will adhere as not to intentionally place others’ lives at risk:
- Parents of learners will need to disclose or report any of the following additional symptoms: body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness. All learners and parents need to heed the directives issued by the President and the guidance provided by the Ministry of Health wrt COVID-19.
- Encourage and remind your child to: wash their hands frequently, always with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; keep their nails and teeth clean; refrain from touching their eyes, mouth and face; not share cups, eating utensils, food or drinks with others; sneeze or cough into a bent elbow or tissue, and to discard the tissue safely in a bin with a lid – then wash their hands immediately; refrain from teasing anyone about being sick; share what they learn about preventing disease with their family, friends, and siblings; and tell their teacher or parents, if they feel sick, and to stay at home.
- Practice and remind your child about social distancing
- Practising and encourage wearing of the visor or mask.
- At dismissal, parents need to ensure that learners and themselves do not gather or socialise in the parking area of the school, limit gathering or socialising anywhere e.g. meeting at a friend’s house, visiting family or a local shopping mall.
The decision to close the school will be school- and context-specific and will follow the procedure below.
- The possible closure of a school will only be considered following recommendations from the accountable public health official.
- Temporarily closing a school is a possible strategy to prevent or slow the continued spread of COVID-19 in the school community.
- School administrators are not expected to make decisions about dismissals or closure of schools and will follow the Departmental procedures in this regard.
- The school will seek guidance from local health officials to determine if, when, and for how long to take these steps.
- Should the school close, there will be continuity of learning as learners will continue to benefit from the online classes until we re-open.