The return of staff and students to school this fall has been enabled by many different hygiene protocols that have been put into practice.
Handwashing and Hand Sanitizing: At the start of the semester, school-wide instructions were given on how to properly wash hands. Staff have since been giving frequent reminders to students to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer as often as possible. Research indicates that hourly handwashing/sanitizing is a highly successful mitigation tactic, and this has been true at our schools as well.
Face Coverings: As required by the Utah Department of Health, all staff and students have been wearing face coverings (except for specific medical cases, while social distancing outside, during lunch, band or PE classes). Even when social distancing is maintained inside, we have left our face coverings on to ensure we do not spread illness. Regular additional breaks for fresh air and mask removal while following social distancing outdoors have been scheduled daily as well.
Physical Distancing: Physical distancing has been challenging because classrooms and common areas are fixed in size. Whenever possible, separations of 6 feet have been implemented. Additional steps have been taken to encourage physical distancing during transportation, playground time and meals. Practices such as assigned seating, smaller groups, staggered meal service times, limiting the number of students in common areas, floor markings, signage, and increased monitoring are also helping minimize interactions between staff and students. Again, masks are worn when both distancing is or isn’t possible inside the buildings.
Healthy Habits: Staff and students have also been implementing healthy habits such as covering coughs and sneezes and greeting each other with a wave or air high five rather than making physical contact. Personal water bottles have also been helpful in minimizing the use of water fountains.
Additional Cleanings and Ventilation: Additional disinfecting and deep cleanings are being done in order to decrease the spread of germs. In particular, high-touch surface areas are being cleaned after transition periods. Several interior doors have been left open throughout our facilities to reduce touches and increase ventilation. Several windows have also been opened to increase fresh air.
Staying Home When Sick: The most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Families and schools are working together to regularly check staff and students for symptoms. Students and staff should not hesitate to stay home when feeling sick. Staying healthy and supporting the health of others is a priority over perfect attendance.