Back to School: The Safe Way

The global school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have interrupted our conventional education services. Children have borne the brunt of a paradigm shift in their daily routine. The transition of their instructional time from a classroom to a screen has changed the way they learn and work. Restriction of movement and lack of outdoor activity has affected their well-being. They too suffer the psychological and behavioural adversities precipitated by the pandemic. Unexplained meltdowns, temper tantrums, inattention, screen dependency, physical inactivity, snacking and binge-eating, irregular sleep patterns, social awkwardness/anxiety – the list of problems is rather a long one. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, considering these negative impacts, the UNICEF has called for schools to reopen. Our children have waited long enough, haven’t they?

Back to School: The Safe Way

This is when we need to look at what has been done and what needs to be done to enable safe and healthy journeys to school. The government, policy makers, education authorities, school administrators, teachers, staff, caregivers and community members shall work together and play their role in keeping students safe every step of the way.

The way forward...

  • A progressive/gradual approach to school reopening with proper planning/communication and coordination.
  • Ensure Safe School Operations
    • Define schedules and safe procedures for school entry, exit and transport. Designate pick-up and drop-off points. Avoid crowding and vehicle congestion. Promote walking and cycling. Coordinate with school transport systems to set up flexible schedules to accommodate changes in timing and passenger numbers.
    • Train staff, students and family in personal protection protocols (hand hygiene, proper use of hand sanitizers and face masks, cough etiquette recommendations and use of thermometers). We at Kauvery have launched programme COVISAFE for this very purpose with successful implementation of the same in several of the top schools in Chennai.
    • Well-ventilated classrooms with spacing and seating protocols that comply with social distancing norms.
    • Adopt cleaning and disinfection protocols in classrooms, sanitary facilities and canteens.
    • Formulate an illness protocol for staff and students during the course of ongoing monitoring for suspicious cases including testing and contact tracing as warranted.
    • Having symptoms?

      Follow this mantra – “Stay home/Seek medical help/Get tested”. Remember, this applies to children, caregivers and school staff.
  • Facilitation of Physical Distancing Strategies
    • Hybrid classes (alternation of on-site and distant learning)
    • Shift system
    • Staggered schedules during the school day
    • Limiting the number of students in a class with appropriate seating arrangements.
  • Vaccination

    Ensure vaccination of school staff, caregivers and community members alike. Children will get indirectly protected if the elders around them are immunized. Don’t our kids get their jabs and injections right from the moment they are born? It’s now our turn to take the shot of hope! We owe it to our loved ones!
  • Review and adapt protocols if necessary according to practical problems faced and lessons learned along the way.

The “new normal” has challenged every framework of our societal network. We have changed our ways of life. But isn’t that what we have always done in any adversity? We improvise, adapt and overcome!

Let’s do this together again for our children, for their physical health and psychosocial welfare!

Take care and best wishes!

Dr. Lakshmi Prashanth MD

Dr. Lakshmi Prashanth MD
Consultant Pediatrician
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai


Write a comment
28-01-2022 04:29:49pm

#1 Tarun kumar

This is an important article since Government has once again ordered to open schools ans colleges after the short lockdown.

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08-12-2021 09:28:43pm

#2 Sainath

Nice advice doc

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02-12-2021 08:12:41pm

#3 Dhivya S

Very useful!!

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02-12-2021 08:11:42pm

#4 Dhivya S

Very useful!

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01-12-2021 12:40:10pm

#5 Aishwarya

Informative and you haven't failed to create awareness to people through your article's, Specially on this pandemic ur article gives us guidance and the way to deal with it, is completely useful.Thank You so much.

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