In September, thousands of children across Ireland returned to the classroom for the first time in over six months. But as schools do their utmost to comply with new health and safety guidelines – including enhanced sanitation facilities and social distancing – cases continue to rise throughout the nation.
As we reach what the HSE has described as a “very concerning juncture”, many schools are now looking for additional levels of protection to safeguard their pupils and teachers alike. But what can schools realistically – and affordably – do to further reduce exposure to COVID-19?
Keeping Contagious Children at Home
The most effective way to prevent an outbreak in schools is, ultimately, to ensure anyone with symptoms of the virus stays at home. Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has emphasised the need to “starve this virus of opportunities to transmit” by keeping contagious children at home, and parents need to be proactive in spotting illness markers. However, this isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.
As we enter the cold-weather seasons, it could become increasingly difficult for parents to differentiate COVID-19 symptoms from the common cold or flu. While some parents will be wary of ‘overreacting’ to the sniffles, Dr Summi Dunne has urged parents to “know the difference between a runny nose” and the virus to avoid ‘dosing’ contagious children with pain killers and sending them to school.
Educating parents on the specific symptoms to look out for will be key to keeping the virus out of your school. Some studies have identified that children experience different symptoms to adults: one in six children who test positive also experience a skin rash, for example, while the most common symptoms for under 18-year-olds are fatigue, headaches and a fever. By ensuring parents know exactly what to look out for, you can help keep the virus at bay.
However, this knowledge must be backed up by regular symptom checks. Depending on the age and temperament of the child, it may be unwise to wait for them to mention their symptoms. Some children may be reluctant to miss school after months away from their friends, and others simply might not notice the early symptoms. Ideally, parents should be proactively checking how their children feel each morning – but in the rush of the school run, these checks may easily be forgotten.
So how can schools encourage parents to check their children’s symptoms every morning before coming into school?
By prompting parents to answer a short questionnaire for their household each morning on their desktop or mobile, you can encourage and remind parents to regularly ask themselves: should my child attend school today? Could they be carrying the virus?
As a daily self-screening platform, Screenin.me makes this process simple, effective and affordable. Schools can set their own criteria and questions, easily track the wellbeing of pupils, and encourage continuous, consistent symptom checks at home. Our secure, cloud-based platform provides real-time PASS/FAIL results to both parents and school administrators – while keeping specific answers entirely confidential.
With accurate, automated reporting, Screenin.me empowers schools to take quick, decisive action to safeguard pupils and staff. Questionnaire results are time-stamped and recorded, supporting a track and trace model. So if you identify a case of COVID-19 in your school, you can act quickly to ensure those who have come into contact with the infected individual are checked for symptoms and isolated if necessary.
Sample Questions to Help Keep Your School Safe
- Does your child have a fever or temperature of 38c or more?
- Has your child’s sense of taste or smell changed?
- Does your child have a new, continuous cough?
- Has your child developed a new, unexplained rash?
- Is anyone in your household exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19?
- Has anyone in your household been asked to self-isolate?
By creating standardised question sets based on HSE guidance, you can support parents to consistently check their children for the right symptoms and remove any doubt as to whether their child can attend school. With our confidential tracking capability, you can also identify which children have not been screened regularly at home, so you can take extra care when looking out for signs of the virus.
Screenin.me is the quick and easy way to help keep coronavirus at bay and give parents the confidence to decide when their child should stay home. Get in touch with our team today to find out how we can support you.
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