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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- If a waiver is needed for state requirements of a minimum number of in-person instructional hours or school days (seat time) as a condition for funding;
- How to convert face-to-face lessons into online lessons and how to train teachers to do so;
- How to triage technical issues if faced with limited IT support and staff;
- How to encourage appropriate adult supervision while children are using distance learning approaches; and
- How to deal with the potential lack of students’ access to computers and the Internet at home.”
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
- Communicate with everyone who needs to be involved with your plan
- Determine if anyone in your household is at a greater risk for serious complications – elderly or has an underlying health condition and/or is immunosuppressed
- Create a plan to keep them as healthy as possible
- Meet and get to know your neighbors and community and communicate with them about what you will do in the event of an outbreak
- Identify the aid organizations in your community
- Who to contact for information
- For health care services
- For support
- For resources
- For mental health and/or counseling services
- For food and other supplies
- have/create an emergency contact list and share it with everyone in your household
- Practice precautions and preventative measures to keep yourself and your family healthy
- Determine a room or location in your home that will be used in case members of your household become sick to keep the rest of the family healthy
- Be prepared and create a plan for if school and/or childcare facilities are temporarily closed
- Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation
- Directory of local health departments in the US – https://www.naccho.org/membership/lhd-directory
- Stay in touch with phone or email
- Take care of yourself and your household members emotional health
- Talk to your workplace about plans for if you or a household member becomes sick or your child’s school or childcare becomes dismissed due to contagious diseases in schools.
What to do if you or someone you know becomes infected
- Take the same precautions you would take if someone you know or if you have the flu
- Maybe wear a facemask to avoid contaminating others
- Cover your mouth with a tissue, sleeve, or the crook of your elbow when you cough or sneeze
- Throw away tissues immediately after use and wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
- Clean commonly used surfaces regularly
- Keep stress levels down
- There isn’t a currently known cure or vaccine for COVID-19
- Stay home except when receiving medical care
- Separate yourself even at home
- Call ahead before visiting the doctor so that they can take proper precautions to stay healthy and keep those around them healthy
- Monitor your symptoms
- Call a doctor if they start to get worse
- To read more about what to do when sick Check out this article from the CDC – What to Do If You Are Sick With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
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.
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?
- Shortness of breath
The CDC concludes that symptoms can appear in as little as 2 days or as many as 14 days.
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.
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.
Resources on SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 or The Novel Coronavirus
Articles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- When and How to Wash Your Hands
- Prevention and Treatment of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
- Stigma Related to COVID-19
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary
- Preventing the Spread of the Flu at School
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) and Children
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel
- Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), February 2020
Articles from The World Health Organization
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-2019) Situation Reports
- Situation Report 38 – from February 27, 2020, was the most recent report at the time of writing this article.
- Q&A on Coronaviruses (COVID-19)
- Coronavirus Disease Healthcare Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Free PDFs and other Printable resources for your school, home or office
- Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Fighting Products – American Chemistry Council
- FAQ PDF – County of Los Angeles Public Health Coronavirus Resources
- Guidance for Schools PDF – County of Los Angeles Public Health Coronavirus Resources
- Guidance for Schools and Out-of-Home Child Care Centers: 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – SCDHEC
- Stay Home if You’re Sick Flyer – CDC
- Don’t Spread Germs At Work Flyer – CDC
- What You Need to Know About Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Flyer – CDC
- Stop the Spread of Germs Flyer – CDC
- Health Promotion Materials – CDC
- Coronavirus Statistics
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What parents should know – UNICEF
- How dangerous is the COVID-19 infection? – Medical News Bulletin
- Information For Schools and Child Care on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Minnesota Department of Health
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