Countless schools across the country have opened their schools and started fall sports only to be shut down soon after, following positive cases of COVID-19. Educational systems face a challenging situation – is it possible to safely reopen for in-class instruction and to play sports? There are incredible benefits of learning in the classroom and for those students who choose to engage in extracurricular activities, such as school sports (read our recent column here https://leapfoundationdc.org/benefits-of-youth-sports/), but the move to do so continues to create frustration for administrators, students and parents.
While there is no guarantee that the virus won’t continue to spread through the school and sports setting, there are some measures that can be taken to help institutions remain open, providing much-needed instruction. These are things that everyone can do and they are especially important for adults to adhere to. Not only does this keep the students healthy and prevents school shut-downs due to active cases, but it also sets a critical example for young people who might think they are immune to the seriousness of the virus. If we all do our part, regardless of political party or personal beliefs, the education of our future leaders can continue.
Stay home if the virus is suspected or you are awaiting test results. This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens. Maybe you think it’s just allergies or a common cold causing your cough and stuffy nose. Or maybe you were sick with a fever and you’re feeling better, but you haven’t received your test results. The answer is simple: Stay home until you know for sure.
Wear a mask or shield. Covering our mouths and faces not only prevents us from inhaling other people’s aerosols, but it also keeps us from unintentionally sharing viruses with others. Since we could have the virus without showing symptoms, it is important that we keep our germs to ourselves as our case counts decrease.
Social distance. Many schools have found ways to socially distance students by switching to individual desks, rather than tables, spacing seats apart, offering meals in separate areas, and trying to keep halls moving in one direction. These are all simple ways to prevent the spread of a virus that can reach others from just a few feet away.
Wash hands often, use sanitizer regularly and clean high-touch surfaces. Experts aren’t just concerned about the spread of COVID-19 through talking, coughing and sneezing, but surfaces, as well. There are various findings and opinions about how long the virus can survive on high-touch surfaces, like desktops, doorknobs, bathroom faucets and even clothing and backpacks, as well as tools like pencils, pens and iPads. That’s why it’s important to wash the hands as often as possible and to take some time to wipe down high-touch surfaces often.