Universities are places where students live and study close to each other. They are also buzzing cultural hubs where students are brought together from nations around the world.
Up until the last presidential announcement of finalists granted the opportunity to resume, education officials have been forced to cancel classes and close the doors to campuses across the world in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak.
Below are precautionary measures IUEA has set in place ensuring the safety of both the staff and students:
Key Messages & Actions
Following basic principles can help keep students, teachers, and other staff (custodial, food handlers, etc.) safe at school and help stop the spread of this disease. Therefore:
- Sick students, teachers and other staff will not come to school
- IUEA will enforce regular hand washing with safe water and soap, the use of hand sanitizer at a minimum, daily disinfection and cleaning of school surfaces
- Social distancing within the classes and the entire IUEA facility will be enforced.
Know the latest facts
IUEA understands the necessary information about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission. We stay informed about COVID-19 through reputable sources such as UNICEF, IFRC, WHO and national health ministry advisories. We are aware of fake information/myths that may circulate by word-of-mouth or online.
Ensure safe school operations
IUEA is working with officials to guarantee we are not used as a shelter, treatment unit, etc. With this, IUEA has cancelled any community events/meetings that usually take place on the school premise, based on risk.
The enforcement of frequent handwashing, sanitation and the procurement needed supplies is in play. Handwashing stations with soap, water hand sanitizers in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets have been set up.
Cleaning and disinfecting the school buildings, classrooms, kitchens and dining facilities will take place at least once a day, particularly surfaces that are touched by many people (railings, lunch tables, sports equipment, door and window handles, teaching and learning aids etc.)
Social distancing practices will include:
- Staggering the beginning and end of the school day
- Cancelling assemblies, sports games and other events that create crowded conditions
- Spacing for student’s desks to be at least one meter apart
Establish procedures if students or staff become unwell
IUEA has planned with local health authorities, school health staff and updated the emergency contact lists. Ensuring a system for separating sick students and faculty from those who are well – without creating stigma – and a process for informing parents/caregivers, and consulting with health care providers/health authorities wherever possible. Students/ staff may be referred directly to a health facility, depending on the situation/context, or sent home. Procedures will be shared with staff, parents, and students ahead of time.
Promote information sharing
IUEA is coordinating and following the guidelines from the national health and education authorities. IUEA is also sharing public information with staff, caregivers, and students, providing updated information on the disease situation, including prevention and control efforts at school. Reinforcing that caregivers should alert the school and health care authorities if someone in their home has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and keeping their child at home. Utilizing parent-teacher committees and other mechanisms to promote information sharing and ensuring student’s questions and concerns, including through the development of posters which can be placed on notice boards, in restrooms, and other central locations are addressed.
Adapt school policies where appropriate
IUEA has developed a flexible attendance and sick leave policy that encourages students and staff to stay home when ill or when caring for sick family members, discouraging the use of perfect attendance awards and incentives. Identifying critical job functions and positions, and planning for alternative coverage by cross-training staff and planning for possible academic calendar changes, particularly concerning breaks and examinations is in play as well.
Monitor school attendance
Implementing school absenteeism monitoring systems to track student and staff absence and comparing them against usual absenteeism patterns at the school. Alert local health authorities about large increases in student and staff absenteeism due to respiratory illnesses.
Plan for continuity of learning
In the case of absenteeism/sick leave or temporary school closures, there will be support in continued access to quality education. This will include:
- Use of online/e-learning strategies
- Assigning reading and exercises for home study
- Radio, podcast, or television broadcasts of academic content
- Assigning teachers to conduct remote daily or weekly follow up with students
- Reviewing/develop accelerated education strategies
Implement targeted health education
Integrating disease prevention and control in daily activities and lessons. Ensuring content is age, gender, ethnicity, and disability-responsive and activities are built into existing subjects.
Address Mental Health/Psychosocial support needs
Encouraging students to discuss their questions and concerns. We will clarify that it is normal that they may experience different reactions and encourage them to talk to teachers if they have any questions or concerns. Providing information in an honest, age-appropriate manner. Guiding students on how to support their peers and prevent exclusion and bullying. Ensuring teachers are aware of local resources for their well-being. Working with school health workers/social workers to identify and support students and staff who exhibit signs of distress.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms can include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. These symptoms are like a flu (influenza) or a common cold, which are a lot more common than 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, and mouth). There is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.
We are a family and cannot wait to see you again. This too shall pass, and IUEA is ready to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
See you soon!