July 2020 1st Edition

COVID-19 school safety guidelines

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has put safety regulations in place for schools, to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The measures are meant to protect teachers, parents and learners and include using personal protective equipment and ensuring social distancing and regular hand washing or sanitising.

Schools must also educate teachers and learners about COVID-19, including how it is spread and its symptoms, says DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

“Every person who enters or leaves a school must wash their hands or sanitise them, at the gate, using hand hygiene stations equipped with soap and water or a 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitiser,” he adds.

The guidelines state:

  • How and when schools should be cleaned.
  • Cleaning products must be consistently available.
  • That pens and pencils must not be shared amongst learners or teachers.
  • Food and eating utensils may not be shared.
  • Social distancing must be adhered to at all times.
  • Classrooms must be well aired.
  • Classrooms must be cleaned at least twice a day with disinfectant.
  • Every person who enters a school should have their temperature checked with a digital thermometer scanner.
  • All classrooms and offices must have a portable handwashing station, in the form of tippy taps, soap or hand sanitiser.
  • A litter bin with a liner must be used in every classroom to throw away tissues, paper towels and other waste.

“Every person who enters a classroom must wash their hands with soap and water or sanitise their hands. They must do this again when leaving the classroom. Protective face masks must be worn at all times in classrooms,” says Mhlanga.

Schools that provide food through the National School Nutrition Programme must make sure that the food preparation area’s surfaces are cleaned daily with disinfectant and wiped with a 70 percent ethyl alcohol-based cleaner between daily cleanings.

“Learners should eat their meals in the classroom, under the supervision of an educator. Staggered serving times should be considered to prevent queuing in the kitchen.”

A safe environment can be achieved by removing infectious particles in the air and on surfaces, by always adhering to the rules, says Mhlanga.   

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