Back to school safety is a complicated topic. Especially considering recent global news: Australia was on fire, COVID-19 became a pandemic, protests erupted across the US, and more. These things are proof that safety continues to become even more complicated everyday.

But, at the end of the day, children are our future and we need to protect them. But what steps can you take to make sure your school is safe for next school year?

According to schoolsafety.gov, there are three steps to a safe school:

  1. Prevention,
  2. Protection and Mitigation
  3. Response and Recover.

We’re going to use, for example, a COVID-19 outbreak in a school.

Prevention

What steps can you take today to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 (or another virus) in your school?

sick child graphic to emphasize the importance of back to school safety

Preparing for a possible viral emergency

For a COVID-19 (or other viral) outbreak, that would include preparing for distance learning and sanitation.

Have a plan for how ‘bad’ things have to get for you to close your school.

Keep in contact with healthcare officials

Keep in contact with your district and other schools in your area

How will you handle siblings where one member of the family has a viral illness? Will they all need to stay home? What about your staff when they have a family member who’s sick?

Have practice distance learning days

COVID-19 showed us all how many gaps there are in a mixed learning style. Albeit, I have to say, it was rather heroic how teacher’s took their lessons online in such a short period of time with barely any instruction.

However, practice makes perfect. Having a few distance learning days a month will help your staff, students, and family communities to prepare for an emergency. They will also enable you to iron out the wrinkles in your plans.

Discourage perfect attendance

Perfect attendance is an admirable goal, but it’s unrealistic in a society where humans interact so often on a daily basis. If one student gets sick, they can easily pass that illness to other students or staff.

Along those lines, set things up so that children/staff can participate in distance learning when they are sick. That way, they can stay on top of their schoolwork without endangering others.

Protecting and Mitigating for Back to School Safety

How can you protect your school from a viral outbreak?

Practice social distancing during drop off, dismissal, and throughout the day

Dismissal and drop off are particularly complicated aspects of the school day because they involve so many people moving and interacting with each other. Software can help ease this process and enable social distancing and tracking things like temperature. 

classroom graphic

Disinfect regularly

Revisit your janitorial systems and procedures and make sure they are up to date with what health officials require.

Ventilate properly and often

Proper ventilation of classrooms, offices, and other enclosed spaces on your grounds helps slow the spread of germs.

Alleviating the threat

The first step to reduce the threat of a viral outbreak would be tracking symptoms and doing contact tracing of people who start to show symptoms

That way, you know which students/staff need to stay home and how long they need to stay away.

Responding and Recovering

COVID-19 is changing how millennials and other generations are interacting with the government and companies. We’re aware of who’s handling things well and who’s not. This awareness will change where we shop and the people we support.

Your direct response to a viral outbreak or the threat of one will depend on the severity of the threat, the size of your school, and other factors.

Sources like the CDC recommend vacating school buildings for a day or two to disinfect everything incase of an outbreak. And if more outbreaks occur, you could move to an entirely distance learning based procedures

Recovering from a viral outbreak

Recovering from a viral outbreak will take some time. Distance learning will need to be practiced for at least the length of the viral incubation period. After that, school buildings will need to be sanitized. And depending on the severity of the virus, some daily practices might have to be changed.

The most important step to recover from an emergency is to review everything that happened before, during, and after. You need to assess what aspects of your plans worked and what didn’t. Don’t be afraid to note changes for things that didn’t work.

Along those lines, make sure you communicate with every member of your staff. Find out how they and their department handled everything. What they think should be changed and what worked.

Communication and honesty is key to being prepared for any emergency.

What can you do for back to school safety before school starts this fall?

Now, understanding all those things is great. But, it’s currently June, what can you do now to prepare for the coming semesters?

That depends on your role at the school. Research is an effective thing to do during summer break and other in between periods. Particularly, researching the best practices for every aspect of a school day and how to manage different emergencies.

back to school safety software for viral outbreaks and distance learning

Set up software

There are many companies that work to help schools prepare for back to school safety and to help their operations run smoothly. PikMyKid is one such company that you could check out. They enable you to run an efficient, safe pickup line and manage several other aspects of the school day from a single computer.

Create a viral outbreak plan and add it to your back to school emergency plan

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that no one was really prepared to handle a viral outbreak like that. It’s been decades since we’ve had one that bad and it highlighted many aspects of our society that need to be changed.

When your school isn’t in session, research emergencies and create plans for how your school will handle each emergency. While you’re creating those things, be in contact with other members of your staff to get their input and keep everyone on the same page.

School Resource Officers (SROs) are law enforcement officers from local police departments assigned to schools to connect students with school resources. They handle all the school’s security needs while facilitating student access to all school’s resources.

Background and Qualifications Needed for SROs

Besides ensuring peace of mind for students, staff, parents, and management, School Resource Officers are liaisons, connecting the school with external security and safety organizations.

Three or four decades ago, their job was simple: maintain a visible presence, look for minor crimes like vandalism and theft, and respond to isolated violence, drug, and gang activity related incidences.

Today, the security needs of an average K-12 school have evolved into needing to prevent mass shootings and bomb scares. As such, their role has evolved to investigating bomb threats, preventing abrupt incidences of violence, and watching out for “lone wolf” mass shooters.

Related Article: Our Schools are Less Safe Today than 50 Years Ago

School Resource Officers Need to Meet the Following Qualifications:

Annual Earning Potential for a School Resource Officer

The wage potential of an SRO depends on the state where they are working. Below are some resources to see the earning potential in various states across the US.

Zip Recruiter: What is the Average School Resource Officer Salary by State

Career Trend: How Much Money Does a School Resource Officer Make?

Salary Expert: School Resource Officer Salary

When Do Schools Typically Hire SROs?

Recruitment agencies and schools tend to hire School Resource Officers at the end of summer break, between late July and end of August. Some agencies tend to hire a bit early at the start of summer break.

To find out when summer break is for your state or district, check out this website: My School Holidays

Meanwhile, the academic year for K-12 schools in the US lasts for 180 days with Thanksgiving, Christmas, mid-winter, and spring breaks. K-12 schools often close in mid-June and commence at the start of the second week of August.

Common Recruiting Websites for Finding SRO Jobs:

ZipRecruiter – one of the largest web-based recruitment agencies in the United States, links over 20,000 recruits to employers annually.

Lucas Group – This is the third-largest recruitment agency in the United States

Robert Half – a highly reputable security personnel recruitment agency in the United States

Best Practices of a School Resource Officer

Typically, schools hire School Resource Officers on their own. Some SRO’s are regular police officers – a practice that is often objectionable by some parents and community leaders. However, the SRO is bound to adhere to the best practices of the profession regardless of their recruitment.

Dos and Don’ts for SROs

Dos

Related Article: School Safety is No Joke – A Teacher’s Take

Don’ts

3 Steps to Be A Successful School Resource Officer

Build a Professional Relationship with Staff

Staff cooperation is a necessity to complete your responsibilities.

School Resource Officers Need to Engage Students in Their Environments

Mixing with students helps you create rapport and win their trust, two factors that ease intense situations. The expectation you have for teenagers should be different from those you have for adults

Maintain strong LEO relationships

Besides students and school staff, the SRO should also maintain good working relationships with law enforcement officers outside the school

School Resource Officer Fact Sheet Infographic

Things Districts Should Know About School Resource Officers

Sometimes, districts have a bigger say on policing decisions in schools under their authority and, there tend to be misunderstandings around the topics of hiring SROs and whether they should carry guns.

Related Article: School Security: A Human Layer

Top 12 Qualities of a School Resource Officer

1. Culturally and Socially Sensitive

K-12 schools, like any other school in the US, consisting of students from different cultures and social backgrounds. School Resource Officers should understand a variety of cultural and social backgrounds. This helps them avoid responding to issues in a way that could be interpreted as racially or culturally insensitive

Recently, this has become one of the core qualities the SRO should possess, as concerns rise over racial profiling in community policing.

2. School Resource Officers Need to Possess A Positive Attitude

They should have a positive attitude towards the school community and their own career.

Most School Resource Officers are derived from local police departments while others have experience in law enforcement from elsewhere. One thing unites all of them: many people they meet are illegally peddling drugs or committing a homicide. This can cloud their judgments of everyone else.

Also, law enforcers seldom receive the credit they deserve. Once they leave service, nobody remembers they were there. For this reason, some of them don’t see the point of committing themselves to the profession with the required zeal. If a law enforcement officer holds these thoughts for a long time, they’re less likely to be willing to make a difference or even enjoy their responsibilities.

It becomes hard to be a disciplined enforcer if you don’t have the right attitude. Schools want to work with an SRO who loves their job and who is willing to do anything to keep school staff and students safe.

3. Mingle with and Engage Pre-Teens and Teens

The SRO in K-12 school needs to be able to effortlessly interact with pre-teens and teens and engage them in safety.

Students are often more willing to share with an SRO than with a teacher. Thus, an SRO becomes the best link between students and school management. However, that’s only possible if the SRO is accommodating to young people.

Pre-teens, like anyone else, don’t want to approach an intimidating person. An SRO who gets along with pre-teens and the school’s personnel is likely to meet their responsibilities better than one with no rapport at all.

Emergency Reunification Planning SRO
Smiling friendly police officer providing security on school campus.

4. School Resource Officers Need to Have the Ability to Work Independently

The SRO should be able to perform their duties independently and without supervision. Partly because School Resource Officers often don’t have an assistant to back them up. And partly because an independent SRO is more efficient. 

A typical K-12 school would employ one SRO to oversee the security needs of the entire institution. When they work independently, they respond faster to emergency situations because they know exactly what to do and don’t need to take orders from anyone. 

Law enforcement and outside pressure don’t mix well. The SRO who can perform their duties without being pressured is a valuable resource to the school.

5. Excellent Interpersonal Communication Skills

School Resource Officers must possess interpersonal skills for daily interaction with school personnel and students. Communication skills which include the ability to listen and speak effectively are needed. The SRO should possess non-verbal communication skills and even be able to use American Sign Language. Additionally, they also need to be able to control their emotions in any situation.

There are several reasons why recruitment agencies put more emphasis on communication and interpersonal skills when hiring School Resource Officers. Firstly, a person with this quality is more likely to be emotionally intelligent. Secondly, people with these skills tend to be good in mediation and conflict resolution as well as influencing and persuading others.

6. Understand Child Psychology and Development

This is one of the most important qualities a K-12 school SRO should possess. Pre-teens are children according to the law and from a psychological perspective. This means that they don’t reason like adults. Following this rationale, a school will only want to hire an SRO who understands children and will only approach students as children, not adults.

Child psychology and development studies teach children’s development including physical, social-emotional, cognitive, and psychological milestones. The SRO with certification in this area can be of great value to a K-12 school.

7. Knowledge of School Safety Technologies and Implementation

The increasing confrontation between students and law enforcement officials and the prevalence of mass shootings have pushed schools to implement rigid security and safety policies.

Part of these reforms is the installation of security systems that take advantage of modern technology. Such systems include social media watchers, internet safe kits, anonymous alerts, entry control equipment, visitor management systems, X-Ray machines and metal detectors, panic buttons, surveillance cameras, etc.

The SRO should be knowledgeable of these technologies including their implementation and use. An SRO with certification in policing technologies or the equivalent is skilled enough to use most security safety technologies installed in schools.

Related Article: Spring is the Best Time to Make School Technology Changes

SROs in schools
High school administrators discussing something after class

8. Willingness to Work with Parents, Community, and Youth-Serving Professionals

The SRO should be willing to work with the community to ensure students’ security and safety.

In the event of a security emergency, the SRO will be the first person to contact parents and give them situational updates. During a safety breach, community members and parents will talk to the SRO first. For these reasons, the school would want to hire an SRO who is ready to work with all interested stakeholders regarding the student’s safety.

At the same time, the SRO is expected to be able to work with an array of pre-teen and youth-serving professionals on a range of issues regarding the safety and wellbeing of students.

These youth-serving professionals can be

School Resource Officers can provide these professionals with a lot of useful information that other school employees wouldn’t be aware of. Because SRO’s tend to be closer to students.

Related Article: Preventing Coronavirus/Contagious Diseases in Schools

9. Knowledge of K-12 School-Based Legal Issues

With the prevalence of “banned” items entering schools, it is important to understand what the law says concerning searching students and seizing their property.

School personnel, including SRO’s, need only establish reasonable suspicion to search and seize items, instead of the probable cause standards used by police officers. By reasonable suspicion, the search need must be reasonable both in scope and at inception.

Other than being privy to the legal framework about the relationship between the students and the school personnel, the SRO should also be aware of legal and security challenges facing K-12 schools today.

10. School Resource Officer’s Are Counselors When Needed

After being hired, SRO’s need to familiarize themselves with the school and identify community resources that are available to them and the students.

When an issue occurs in the community that affects the students, the SRO officer is a valuable resource to the school personal by helping them protect the students. They should also be knowledgeable in child protective services, technologies used by the community and the school, and mental health services.

11. An Enforcer

While in the K-12 school, the SRO handles the safety of the school staff and students within the boundaries of the school. They also serve as liaisons between the school and external security establishments such as police departments and the community.

SROs need to be informed regarding law enforcement matters concerning the school personnel and students. 

They should be able to handle many responsibilities besides receiving and responding to calls for service from the school’s management. These include coordinating externally sourced responses from other security personnel. Contacting emergency services in the event of injuries or breach of safety.

12. School Resource Officers are also Educators

In many states across the US, the SRO occasionally teaches both teachers and students about policing. Therefore, having certifications in the related public safety, counseling, and policing studies is an added advantage.

Teaching topics can include:

The SRO who possesses the qualities of an educator is a valuable resource for a school. They are able to connect with the students in the classroom the same way teachers do while simultaneously enforcing the law.

Related Article: How to Create a Safe Space in Your Classroom

Top 12 Qualities of an SRO Infographic

Other Private School and Charter School Safety Personnel

School first aid coordinators – they attend to students when they require urgent medical attention.

School nurse – they provide comprehensive medical services to students

Health and security volunteers – individuals who complement the responsibilities of School Resource Officers, school nurses, school first aid coordinators, and safety personnel free of charge.

Frequently Asked Questions About School Resource Officers

Q: Who is responsible for hiring SROs?

A: In some states, the school itself may choose to hire the SRO based on the criteria set by management. The local police department can provide its own officers to take roles if necessary. Any school can choose to outsource the recruitment responsibilities of a recruitment agency of choice.

Q: Do SROs need to be certified?

A: No, but they need to be trained. In most contexts, NASPRO (National Association of School Resource Officers) would take the training responsibilities as requested by the school or local police department.

Certifications are given for other purposes and don’t necessarily qualify as a show of qualification. Such purposes include communicating the expiration date, complying with renewal requirements, and as a revocation procedure.

Q: Are SROs always armed?

A: Yes. The SRO is not a security guard but rather, a commissioned law enforcement officer who is allowed by the law to use their firearms when necessary. But that’s not always the case. Some jurisdictions with stringent gun laws restrict School Resource Officers from carrying firearms when in schools.

Q: How many SROs could there be in the United States?

A: No one really knows the exact number of School Resource Officers in the United States. This is partly because there is no requirement for SROs to register with a national database. Additionally, local police departments do not report the number of their officers deployed in schools to serve as SROs.

Q: What evidence shows that SROs are valuable?

A: Research on SROs in the United States is scanty. However, Researchers at Carleton University in Canada conducted a study spanning 2 years on the Canadian SRO program. They released a report in 2018 indicating that, for every $1.00 invested in the program by the government brought, there is $11.10 in returns. The report also highlights several benefits of the program including:

Related Article: 4 Common Issues Found in School Safety Assessment

Q: Do SROs contribute to the dreaded school-to-prison incarceration pipeline?

A: No. School Resource Officers are carefully selected and follow the best practices as defined by NASRO. The role of the SRO is limited to ensuring the security and safety of the students. All disciplinary issues are handled by the school’s management.

Q: How do SROs respond to a mass shooter?

A: NASPRO trains School Resource Officers to charge directly at the shooter and quickly neutralize them to prevent injuries and loss of life.

Q: What’s the maximum number of SROs a K-12 school should have at a given time?

A: According to the recommendations given by NASRO, one carefully selected and trained SRO is enough to provide security for any school. There have been suggestions to allocate 1 SRO for every 1000 students. Schools are advised by NASRO to consider their location, climate, size of their campus, and size of both teaching and non-teaching staff when selecting an SRO.

Q: Who qualifies to be SRO?

A: Contrary to common belief, the SRO does not need to be a law enforcement officer in practice. However, experience in law enforcement is considered to be an added advantage. K-12 schools tend to put more emphasis on the ability of the SRO to connect with teens. Some schools allow volunteers to take over security responsibilities.

Impressive Safety Tools Parents and Teachers Should Have

Pikmykid

As the name suggests, this platform connects teachers and parents regarding the care of children after the learning session has been dismissed. It is an excellent platform to ensure that your child is in safe hands immediately after school.

Kidio- Panic Button

Instead of the old fashioned emergency button under the desk or on the wall, this panic button is designed in such a way that it can be available to every staff member to press immediately when an emergency occurs.

Kidio- Anonymous Tipline

You can train your child to look for signs of danger such as abnormal behavior in the surroundings and send an anonymous alert. It can be a useful tool if there is a fear of kidnapping or frequent bullying.

In Conclusion

The School Resources Officer has two core responsibilities:

  1. facilitating access to resources by students 
  2. ensuring that the safety and security of the students are safeguarded.

Although most SROs are sourced from the local police department, the K-12 school can choose to outsource the recruitment task to a recruitment agency.

NASRO expects SROs to adhere to the best practices of their profession.

School Resource Officers should have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the learning institution. This clarifies their specific roles and draws a line between routine discipline issues, which should be pursued by the teachers, and the general safety and security of the students, the actual role of the SRO.

School Resource Officers in Schools -SROs

Kid.io strives to put school safety first, no matter what. This includes protecting students, staff, and teachers from anything that could be problematic. Right now, the Coronavirus or COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind and is creating excessive amounts of anxiety and questions especially around preventing contagious diseases like coronavirus in schools. Today, Kid.io is determined to answer as many of those questions as possible and relieve that anxiety.

Remember, at the end of the day, preventing illness is the most important step but if you do become sick or you are in contact with someone who is sick, follow ALL guidelines given to you by medical professionals.

The Reality of the Coronavirus

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the actual health risk from the coronavirus is rather low for those in the US. And the WHO (World Health Organization) states, if you haven’t been in an area where the virus is currently spreading, there is a very small chance that you will contract the virus.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be cautious. It means that you don’t need to be panicking about the coronavirus right now. Fear leads to more stress and more stress leads to a lowered immune system and a lowered immune system means that you are more likely to contract a virus like a coronavirus. Prevention is the best way to keep this from becoming a global pandemic.

kidio coronavirus prevention

In keeping with this theme of reducing anxiety, research by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 14%  of COVID-19 cases have been deemed ‘severe’, a mere 5% are considered critical cases, and less than 3% have resulted in death.

To learn more, read this article from The Scientist – Why some COVID-19 Cases are Worse than Others

Tips for School Staff and Students  to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus

Remember, the symptoms and spread of COVID-19 are very similar to those of a cold or flu and other contagious diseases so the precautions you need to take are very similar to those that you take during this season anyway. Also, keep in mind that it is cold and flu season so people with respiratory symptoms most likely just have a cold or flu and not a coronavirus.

Wash your hands regularly

The CDC and other health organizations recommend washing your hands liberally with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should wash your hands after using the bathroom, before, during, and after preparing food, before eating, after touching your face, and after touching anything that could be infected. This helps to prevent the spread of any contagious diseases in schools.

wash your hands animated gif from the cdc about coronavirus

To read more about proper handwashing, check out this article from the CDC: When and How to Wash Your Hands

Don’t share personal items

This includes toothbrushes, razors, and things that you use on your face regularly.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

It is not recommended that you use your hands to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Because you use your hands to touch so many things. It is very easy to transfer the germs from a cough or sneeze onto other things. You should cover your mouth with a tissue, sleeve, or the crook of your elbow instead.

Get Vaccinated to Prevent Other Illnesses

COVID-19 is still a very new illness and we have much to learn about it. But there seems to be a bit of trend of cases being more severe in people with lower immune systems. Illness like the flu will lower your immune system, so preventing this and other illnesses also helps you keep yourself from contracting a coronavirus. Or if you do contract it, it won’t be as severe.

Be a Smart Traveler

Before traveling anywhere, be aware of any announcements made by health officials in the area. Don’t be afraid to cancel plans to areas that have precautions in place. If your school has pending trips, please check with your school district health officials/CDC if it is safe to travel to those areas.

To read more about traveling smartly, check out this article from the CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel

Don’t touch your face

Our hands touch hundreds if not thousands of surfaces in a single day. It is rather foolish to then touch our faces with them. Because our faces contain the best entrances for viruses to enter our bodies. Specifically through our noses, eyes, and mouths. Try to wash your hands before and after touching your face.

prevent contagious diseases by using caution around animals

Exercise Caution around Animals

The SARS-CoV-2 virus was first detected in animals and then spread to humans and is now being spread through human to human contact. Because of this, it is important to be cautious around animals and wash your hands regularly when dealing with them. Teachers should pay particular attention to class pets in some schools that are in constant contact with students to spread of contagious diseases in schools.

Exercise extra caution if you are more at risk

The novelty of COVID-19 means that not a lot of distinct information is available on it. But research seems to suggest that you are more at risk for serious complications if you are elderly, pregnant, immunosuppressed or hospitalized. Children whose immune symptoms are not fully developed also tend to fall under these high-risk categories for any contagious diseases in schools.

Wearing Face Masks

Because COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and those can enter your body through a variety of points, wearing a mask when you are not infected isn’t really helpful. It is important to wear a mask if you are in the same room as someone who is infected. But other than that, you can wear one if you want but it will not keep you from contracting the virus alone.

However, if you do become infected, it is important to wear a mask to keep yourself from infecting others.

To read more about COVID-19 and masks check out this article from the WHO – When and How to Use Masks

Stay Home When You Are Sick

The best way to slow and prevent the spread of any virus is to stay away from others when you are infected. By going out in public, you risk infecting others and increasing the spread. And, you risk picking up germs from another illness and making yourself sicker. Parents should be educated to keep sick children at home in order not to infect other children in school. Teachers should also keep a lookout for symptoms among children in their classrooms and immediately notify the school nurse of any children with flu or cold-like symptoms.

Keeping Schools From Becoming Infected With The Coronavirus

Unless a public health advisory or other relevant warning has been issued for your area, there is no need to keep a healthy child out of school. Instead, teach them how to wash their hands properly and what to avoid to stay healthy.

Support students and staff who are asked to stay home to ensure that they aren’t carrying the virus.

COVID-19 is typically spread through direct contact with respiratory droplets. Those are spread by coughing or sneezing so it is crucial that you clean frequently touched surfaces and wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Thankfully, children seem to be less likely to become infected than older people. When they are infected, their symptoms are milder and severe complications are uncommon. However, you should still take precautions to prevent the spread of contagious diseases in schools.

There are no vaccines for the coronavirus but there are vaccines for the flu and you should keep up to date with vaccines to keep from contracting another illness.

Novel Coronavirus What you need to know infogrpahic

If there are no cases of coronavirus in your school community

Now is the time to prepare and plan for the potential outbreak of Coronavirus in schools. First and foremost, you need to be in communication with your local health departments. You also need to be staying up to date on all information and announcements that are issued by your local health departments.

For a full list  of local health departments in the US:  https://www.naccho.org/membership/lhd-directory

The CDC has this to say about student and staff screening in schools:

“Remember that schools are not expected to screen students or staff to identify cases of COVID-19. The majority of respiratory illnesses are not COVID-19. If a community (or more specifically, a school) has cases of COVID-19, local health officials will help identify those individuals and will follow up on the next steps.”

Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – CDC

Share appropriate and accurate information between departments, parents, students, teachers, other schools, and centers that work with children on a daily basis.

Create and have a plan for dealing with absenteeism that will result from a coronavirus outbreak or other contagious diseases in schools. It is best for those who are sick to stay home so as to keep from infecting others. But in order for this to be successfully practiced, your school needs to have practices in place for dealing with these absentees and keep them up to date with their schooling. It is important to discourage perfect attendance rewards. If a child or a member of their family becomes infected, it is better that they remain home.

Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces and encourage frequent handwashing. Provide appropriate disposable disinfectant cleaning products to your stuff for them to use to keep their spaces as clean as possible.

If there are confirmed cases of coronavirus in your school community

It is essential that you stay up to date with your local health officials.

For a full list  of local health departments in the US:  https://www.naccho.org/membership/lhd-directory

Prepare for the possibility of dismissing children from services and schools to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the virus. Educate people on the priority of not socializing and gathering in large groups when school is dismissed because of a virus. These large groups are counterintuitive to the action of dismissing schools.

The CDC gives these recommendations for preparing for a school dismissal because of a coronavirus outbreak or any other contagious diseases in schools:

“Determine, in consultation with school district officials or other relevant state or local partners:

To read more about what the CDC has to say about dealing with the coronavirus as a school, check out this article from their site: Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – CDC

Tips for Keeping Your School Staff’s families  from Contracting COVID-19

Your school staff is a critical component in fighting a potential outbreak of coronavirus and other contagious diseases in the school community. Therefore it is essential to ensure the health of your staff first by educating them and their families about best practices.

Create a plan of how you and your family will deal with different outcomes of the virus

What to do if you or someone you know becomes infected

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19

How dangerous is the infection?

The coronavirus in schools like other contagious diseases in schools is still rather dangerous but a study done at the Zhejiang University in China shows that while the disease spreads from human to human contact, the symptoms of those in the rest of China were different and typically less severe than those in Wuhan where the virus originated.

To read more check out this article from the Medical News Bulletin – How dangerous is the COVID-19 infection?

Also, just because the virus is spreading rapidly does not mean that it is in fact absolutely dangerous. Many cases of COVID-19 aren’t serious unlike other contagious diseases in schools.

 Many cases of COVID-19 aren't serious

As with most diseases, you are more likely to develop a more severe form of the disease if you have a pre-existing illness or are elderly.

There is also the fewest cases amongst children under the age of 9 than any other age group. This is actually almost the opposite of how most viral outbreaks have been throughout history.

“Patients with severe disease were older than those with the nonsevere disease by a median of 7 years. Despite the number of deaths associated with Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2 appears to have a lower case fatality rate than either SARS-CoV or Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV). “Since patients who were mildly ill and who did not seek medical attention were not included in our study, the case fatality rate in a real-world scenario might be even lower. Early isolation, early diagnosis, and early management might have collectively contributed to the reduction in mortality in Guangdong.”

Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China – The New England Journal of Medicine

Your immune system seems to play a key role in the severity of your case of COVID-19. So, doing things that boost your immune system lessen your chances of contracting the disease and lessen it’s severity if you do contract it.

To read more check out This Article from The Scientist – Why Some COVID-19 Cases Are Worse than Others

What causes novel coronavirus?

Science suggests that COVID-19 started out inside of animals and then spread to humans and is now mostly being spread by human to human contact like other contagious diseases.

The CDC says this about COVID-19:

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.  All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.”

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary 

And Science Direct Says this:

“Although our phylogenetic analysis suggests that bats might be the original host of this virus, an animal sold at the seafood market in Wuhan might represent an intermediate host facilitating the emergence of the virus in humans.”

Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding – Science Direct

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The CDC concludes that symptoms can appear in as little as 2 days or as many as 14 days.

coronavirus symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sever illness, covid-19 symptoms to be aware of for school

Is there a treatment for the coronavirus?

There is currently no known cure for COVID-19 but research is being done into an antiviral drug that could treat COVID-19

To read more about this experimental drug, read this article from the Medical News Bulletin – Remdesivir antiviral – potential treatment for COVID-19

Will the novel coronavirus ever go away?

No one really knows if it will for sure at this time. There are currently two other known coronaviruses that are similar to COVID-19

The SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was reported back in 2003 and there haven’t been any known cases of it since 2004

To learn more about SARS, read this article from the CDC – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

However, The MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) was first reported in 2012 and is still being reported to this day.

To learn more about MERS, read this article from the CDC – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Will wearing masks stop the spread of coronavirus?

Wearing a mask can keep you from infecting others if you are already infected and they could help if you are in an area where there is a high possibility of being infected. But they don’t help that much because they don’t typically cover your eyes and infections can enter your body through those.

To read more about COVID-19 and masks check out this article from the WHO – When and How to Use Masks

Is coronavirus contagious?

Yes, COVID-19 is contagious. Scientific studies show that it was probably initially caused by an animal but there has been significant human to human infestation.

How long does the coronavirus live?

Some studies seem to suggest that the virus could remain on surfaces for up to 9 days at room temperature. However, it can easily be killed with disinfectants. The American Chemistry Council created this PDF of products that fight COVID-19

Viruses love to grow inside of warm, damp climates like your mouth, eyes, and nose. So be careful when touching these and be sure to wash your hands regularly.

To read more: New Study Shows How Long Coronaviruses Can Live on Inanimate Objects and Surfaces – IFL Science

Does coronavirus cause death?

In a very small percentage of cases, COVID-19 has caused death. But the majority of cases are not severe and don’t result in death

Is the coronavirus a global epidemic?

The coronavirus is yet to be determined as a global epidemic but it has spread very rapidly throughout many countries across the world.

When will a cure be available for the coronavirus?

Drugs take a log of testing before they can be approved for human use. But there is research being done into some that will potentially cure COVID-19

Does the flu shot protect against the coronavirus?

The flu shot does not protect against the coronavirus. But getting one lessens your chances of getting the flu. And if you’re less likely to be immunosuppressed from another illness, you’re less likely to contract a serious case of COVID-19

Is the coronavirus airborne?

There hasn’t been enough research done into COVID-19 yet to truly determine if it can be airborne. But there is a high possibility that it can spread through contact with fluids from the human body. And since these are occasionally airborne (in a sneeze for example) there is potential that the disease can spread through the air. But it is yet to be proven.

In Conclusion

The Novel Coronavirus and other contagious diseases in schools is rather scary when you don’t have the proper information at your disposal to truly understand the risks. But hopefully, this article was able to give you the information you need to be prepared to deal with any COVID-19 situation.

Practicing good hygiene and educating everyone within your school community is key to prevention. Remember, stay informed with your local health authorities. Follow all guidelines given to you by medical professionals and your district health officials. Educate your staff and students on best practices. Wash your hands regularly. Isolate and quarantine affected staff or students immediately during any outbreak of contagious diseases in schools.

good hand washing hygiene prevents covid-19 in school

Resources on SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 or The Novel Coronavirus

Scientific studies, articles, and other resources published by the New England Journal of Medicine about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Characteristics of COVID-19 in China

Articles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Articles from The World Health Organization

Free PDFs and other Printable resources for your school, home or office

Other Resources

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