The government in the UK has requested both primary and secondary schools to make necessary arrangements for a full return this September for all pupils. Considering the situation at the moment, this is a big ask, and won’t be without its challenges. Indeed, in the short term, school life won’t be what it was before the summer holidays.
School leaders now have a lot on their plate. They must introduce measures to maintain social distancing within the building and minimise the risk of introducing COVID-19 into the building. They must make sure staff and students are safe and well, and keep a close eye on cleaning regimes. They may also want to introduce ‘learning bubbles’ as a further precaution.
Things to Do to Ensure a Safe Start to the School Year
With all of this in mind, here is a list of everything administrators or leaders need to consider. Of course, ID and access control play a significant part.
- Introduce a policy for site visitors. It doesn’t matter how big your institution is; this must be put into place ASAP. Consider issuing visitors with ID cards, and be sure to place reminders around the building about social distancing. You could create specific lanyards for social distancing, and even provide condensed COVID regulations on the ID card.
- Don’t forget staff ID cards as well. The chances are that your staff already have ID cards. However, have you assessed how well your old system functions? It might be the case that for smaller schools, you have already ordered your ID cards through a printing service. The truth is that for larger establishments, doing this in house could be better. As well as being quicker than ordering, it’s convenient, as you’ll always be able to produce cards as they are needed. It could be a worthwhile investment for the long term.
- PPE Assessment. For staff or students requesting PPE, it is the school’s responsibility to provide it. All students and staff should be adequately protected. Students and staff wanting to wear PPE should be fully supported to do so by their school. This also goes for contractors, maintenance workers or support staff.
- Touchpoints should be minimised throughout the building. They should also be cleaned regularly throughout the day. This includes tables, computers, and door handles, amongst other things. Cross-contamination risk should be minimised by more frequent cleaning cycles. Schools should provide hand sanitiser dispensers throughout the building, or even anti-microbial door opening cardholders.
- Introduction of a policy to maintain group social distancing. Pupils that went back in June were educated in bubbles to maintain social distancing and minimise contact between people. Such groups are likely to get bigger when more and more children return in September. Keeping the right size of group reduces the chance of transmission and therefore the number of staff or pupils catching the virus. Different groups could be assigned different coloured lanyards to prevent mixing. This could be separated by age group, for example. Plus, it’s an effective way for teachers to identify those breaking the rules.
- Recording and tracking cleaning regimes. From September, cleaning rules must be made more vigorous so that the safety and wellbeing of everyone at school is maintained. Records will need to be made for what has been cleaned, and when. NFC tags could be placed on objects that require regular cleaning. Once a cleaner has done this, they then tap their enabled device on it, recording that a clean has taken place. The information is stored in a secure cloud, and the school site manager can identify when such critical cleans have been missed.
Using Lanyards, Badges and ID Cards to Lower Risk
How to maintain social distancing between pupils, and when to resume regular school activities have been questions that have been at the forefront of many school leaders, teachers and parents. While there are some established solutions here in the UK, other countries within Europe have been testing their own methods. These include managing the flow of people, distancing and circulation.
Of course, existing school infrastructure somewhat dictates the measures that can be implemented. Nevertheless, more basic steps remain the same, which include separating students and teachers in small groups, limiting contact with other groups.
ID badges, lanyards and wristbands can be used by teachers and students to work out spaces or groups reserved for them. Such solutions have several advantages. They’re quick to put in place and reassure parents, teachers and pupils. Contamination risk is lowered as there are fewer interactions within the building. If contamination does occur, the group most prone to risk can be identified and informed swiftly.
Working Examples that can be Implemented in Schools
Managing inflows and outflows. This method can be used to prevent crowds from gathering at school gates or similar places. If your school happens to have several different access doors, assign certain groups to each one. For example, users of one coloured lanyard could use one entrance while another uses a separate one. If you’re limited to only one entrance, then set entrance and departure times for each group. This can be identified easily thanks to different coloured lanyards in use.
Floor Management. By separating students into groups, use of rooms can be better managed. Access can be assigned for certain groups, and the number of users at one time can be tightly controlled based on the size of the space and the infrastructure available. Doing things like this avoids cross-contamination from one group to another, and distances can be enforced better. Schools might decide to allocate certain classes to certain lanyard colour groups. Or, only allow access to the dining hall at certain times for certain lanyard colour groups. Toilets throughout the building can be allocated to specific groups as well.
Products we can Provide to Help Enforce these Measures
Coloured badges and lanyards. We can provide a print laminated paper badge in colours of your choosing, and using specific designs. Information can be printed on the badge.
Coloured badge with vinyl insert. Paper badges can be printed and inserted into the plastic holder. When information changes, the badge can be easily updated.