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BIOSECURITY MEASURES TO REDUCE TRANSMISSION RISK OF COVID-19

The United School of Panama (USP), following the Ministry of Education of Panama (MEDUCA) requirements, has drafted this document to learn about the processes that will be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Our firm commitment to our students, collaborators, parents, and educational community is to plan and implement the relevant protocols to provide a safe environment that will enable us to carry out the teaching/learning process in a classroom.

As a responsible educational institution, it is our interest to comply with and enforce all MEDUCA and MINSA guidelines to preserve the health of our academic community.

BIOSECURITY MEASURES TO REDUCE TRANSMISSION RISK OF COVID-19

The United School of Panama (USP), following the Ministry of Education of Panama (MEDUCA) requirements, has drafted this document to learn about the processes that will be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Our firm commitment to our students, collaborators, parents, and educational community is to plan and implement the relevant protocols to provide a safe environment that will enable us to carry out the teaching/learning process in a classroom.

As a responsible educational institution, it is our interest to comply with and enforce all MEDUCA and MINSA guidelines to preserve the health of our academic community.

OUR MAIN OBJECTIVE

Implement and develop biosecurity measures standards and protocols in our small educational community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and provide a safe environment for our students, staff, and the entire scholarly community.

This safe environment will allow us to educate, and at the same time, ensure that students receive constant socio-emotional and academic support. To this end, we provide an environment that honors each student’s individuality, respecting the teaching-learning process and prioritizing each student’s and collaborator’s adaptation process.

SPECIFIC

OBJECTIVES

Provide supplies & training in biosecurity measures to our entire educational community (administrative staff, teachers, assistants, support and cleaning personnel, students, and parents).

Provide training to the faculty on new educational strategies and technologies to efficiently teach the curriculum in online, hybrid, and/or classroom modalities.

Provide training to the faculty on any socio-emotional needs identified in our students to achieve better follow-up and accompaniment on their safe return to the classroom.

Organize a Covid-19 School Committee constituted, and that represents all members of the educational community.

Organize a Covid-19 School Committee constituted, and that represents all members of the educational community.

Inspire a sense of community at an early age by introducing students to the concept of helping others in our community.

Promote students to learn to live together, help others, and generously share their gifts and talents within biosafety guidelines.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE INTEGRATION

The COVID-19 School Committee will be formed by the USP educational community as follows:

General Roles and Responsibilities

Each member of the educational community plays an important role and has roles and responsibilities that must be fulfilled, which are detailed below.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

OF THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE

– Evaluate the educational center’s conditions (infrastructure, water supply, basic health, access to facilities) before returning to school.

– Ensure compliance with the registration of suspected cases of COVID-19.

– Ensure compliance with the recommended physical distance measures (at least 2 meters apart from others) at the entrance and within the educational center.

– Coordinate with the competent authorities the training of the educational community members regarding the cleaning to be applied in school infrastructures and their frequent washing and disinfection. Keep training controls.

– Monitor the health conditions of students, teachers, and school administrative staff.

– Monitor the inventory and supply of biosecurity supplies (water, soap, chlorinated solution, alcohol gel) to ensure their availability.

– Ensure compliance with the educational center’s maintenance and general cleanliness (classrooms, laboratory rooms, administrative offices, restrooms, washbasins, lunchrooms, handrails, doorknobs).

– Coordinate with the health authorities the immediate care of suspected cases of COVID-19 and implement the measures recommended by the Ministry of Health if positive cases occur.

– Ensure that members of the educational community who are exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 comply with the protocols and safety measures established by the Ministry of Health.

– Maintain the School Health Program guidelines’ promotion and diffusion by placing posters on the hygiene and prevention measures of COVID-19 in visible areas.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

OF THE PRINCIPAL

– Coordinate administrative actions to ensure guidelines fulfillment, seeking compliance with physical distance measures (2 meters) and others that reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the facilities.

– Ensure that teaching, administrative, and student personnel comply with the functions, responsibilities, and measures recommended by the COVID-19 School Committee.

 

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

OF THE TEACHING AND ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

– Promote biosecurity measures with their students, seeking to motivate them in good handwashing practices, cleaning and physical distance (2 meters), and orderly interaction in the educational centers.

– Comply with the biosecurity measures established in the educational center to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other seasonal diseases.

– Provide support for several initiatives in the educational center by promoting good hand washing, cleaning, and disinfection practices.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

OF THE CLEANING STAFF

– Perform daily cleaning of classrooms, administrative offices, restrooms, lunchrooms, handrails, and other school infrastructures, applying the safety measures recommended by the health authorities.

– Carry out the collection of solid waste generated in the educational center according to the established schedule.

– Monitor bathrooms have basic toiletries (soap, toilet paper, and others considered necessary).

– With wet mops and rags only, perform wet cleaning to prevent respiratory complications from inhaling dust particles and prevent possible COVID-19 transmissions.

– Comply with the cleaning schedule established in the United School of Panama.

– Ensure security measures are maintained in the execution of their functions, seeking to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID-19.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

OF PARENTS AND GUARDIANS

– Ensure mechanisms that allow the safe transfer of their children to and from the educational centers.

– Reduce the risk of infectious diseases spread by taking measures at home, such as: if students have cold-related symptoms, avoid sending them to the school; in this case, visit the nearest health facilities

– Ensure that safety measures are maintained in the interaction that may occur when visiting educational facilities, seeking to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

OF THE STUDENTS

– Comply at all times with the biosecurity measures established in the educational center to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other seasonal diseases.

– Maintain order and discipline in internal mobilizations that may result from academic activities or commuting to the educational center.

– Notify the teacher in charge about situations with classmates that may pose a risk of transmission (agglomerations, classmates with symptoms, among others).

– If showing symptoms related to COVID-19 or have been in contact with confirmed or suspected cases, inform the school and avoid attending classes.

– Provide support for the diverse initiatives carried out in the educational center, seeking to promote good hand washing, cleaning, and disinfection practices.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

OF SCHOOL BUSES

In educational centers where student and/or teacher transportation services are provided, the following health measures shall be taken:

– Basic vehicle cleaning every time a transport cycle is completed, and thorough or complete cleaning after the daily transport, ensuring that the vehicle is in optimal biosafety conditions to provide student mobilization.

– Ensure that security measures are maintained in the execution of their functions, seeking to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID-19.

MONITORING AND CONTROL MATRICES

For ensuring adequate monitoring and control of situations that may occur in the educational center, the following records shall be kept:

– The United School of Panama will maintain a COVID-19 Suspicious Case Registry Matrix, where students, teachers, administrative staff, or visitors with COVID-19 symptoms will be monitored.

– The United School of Panama will maintain a cleaning and disinfection monitoring matrix, in which the cleaning actions will be monitored to guarantee the minimum health conditions.

SUPPORT GROUPS

The United School of Panama will rely on different internal and external groups or individuals whose area of experience or knowledge can help us develop several measures to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 or seasonal diseases.

PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT

The United School of Panama has provided training to staff members in psychosocial support so that educators can assist if a member of the educational community feels emotionally affected.

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

One of the best tools for preventing COVID-19 cases is ensuring the adequate monitoring and control of situations and agents involved in the educational process.

We must have constant communication with all the educational community members and have positive views, thus better handling situations.

In addition to in-school education on prevention measures such as constant adequate hand washing, use of facemasks, social distancing, and avoiding agglomerations, the school will seek the support of other educational community members to reinforce these guidelines positively.

All United School of Panama staff has taken training and seminars on first aid, Covid-19 risks, and awareness to provide better guidance to educational community members while protecting staff & students when returning to classes.

The United School of Panama will follow the following procedures to ensure the health and well-being of all the educational community members.

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

One of the best tools for preventing COVID-19 cases is ensuring the adequate monitoring and control of situations and agents involved in the educational process.

We must have constant communication with all the educational community members and have positive views, thus better handling situations.

In addition to in-school education on prevention measures such as constant adequate hand washing, use of facemasks, social distancing, and avoiding agglomerations, the school will seek the support of other educational community members to reinforce these guidelines positively.

All United School of Panama staff has taken training and seminars on first aid, Covid-19 risks, and awareness to provide better guidance to educational community members while protecting staff & students when returning to classes.

The United School of Panama will follow the following procedures to ensure the health and well-being of all the educational community members.

GENERAL

MEASURES

Conduct the civic act in the classroom at the beginning of the week with the corresponding group.

Ensure physical distance (2 meters) in classrooms.

Ensure that measures are maintained to allow adequate air circulation. USP will keep doors and windows open early in the morning and afternoon. 

Keep students up-to-date on cleaning and disinfection measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.  Together with the group of students in charge, perform classroom cleaning and disinfection.

Students will not bring physical teaching materials home to avoid the risk of transmission of COVID-19.   Materials will be maintained at school correctly identified, and digital mechanisms will be used when appropriate.

Promote constant handwashing among the students in charge, encouraging them to wash their hands periodically.

Notify academic authorities immediately if students with COVID-19 symptoms are detected. Register the student and send him to the suspected cases designated area.

When students move during the school day, ensure that agglomerations are avoided and clean, and disinfection measures are maintained.

Ensure the consistent and adequate use of facemasks and/or biosecurity supplies.

ENTERING AND LEAVING UNITED SCHOOL OF PANAMA

To reduce the risk of transmission while entering and leaving school, USP will apply the following measures.

ENTERING AND LEAVING UNITED SCHOOL OF PANAMA

To reduce the risk of transmission while entering and leaving school, USP will apply the following measures.

SPECIFIC MEASURES APPLIED BY USP:

1. The entrance to the school day will begin at 7:00 am until 8:00 am. Parents who bring students should not leave the car. This will also be done at the exit time.

2. USP will establish social distancing signs.

3. All educational community members (students, teachers, and administrative staff) must enter the school with facemasks covering their mouth and nose.

4. Since the school will provide all instructional materials, students should only bring one individual reusable water bottle.

5. Families, guardians, and/or caregivers should not enter school facilities except where required and leave children in the designated school area, where teachers will receive them to measure and register their temperature, leave as soon as possible, and allow circulation at the school entrance.

6. The school will keep the records of the persons entering the institution and their respective temperature in the manual daily log.

7. The school will follow the procedures established by MEDUCA.

8. If someone with a temperature greater than 37.5°C is found, who cannot immediately return home, the COVID-19 Case Detection and Management Protocol will be activated.

9. During entrance and exit times, the school will keep the doors open to reduce contact with surfaces.

10. Students will go to their respective classrooms, preventing them from staying in corridors and common areas.

11. The exit process must be organized in such a way that agglomerations at the doors are avoided. As mentioned in point A, parents should not leave their vehicles.

12. The school will ensure that parents, caregivers, and/or guardians waiting for school exit times are placed in an organized manner and do not get off their vehicles.

13. Our security team will establish mechanisms to speed up the flow of school buses, taxis, or private cars keep the order when leaving or picking up the students.

14. It will be emphasized that, upon leaving, people must immediately leave the environment to avoid agglomerations.

Considerations for entering and leaving school

Students will enter through the access door, where the security staff is located, at their established time and will arrive at the covered garage area.  There they will be received by designated staff who will measure their temperature and then continue to their respective classrooms, only and exclusively for that group.

Responsible: Teachers and Assistants.

Students will leave their classroom, walk the corridors while keeping their distance, and will leave through the garage door at their established time.  Those who travel by bus will go directly to their buses, and those who their parents pick up will wait in the designated area (auditorium) and garage until they are called to board the vehicle.

Responsible: Teachers and Assistants.

Commuting to and from housing

  1. Parents and guardians should follow prevention and safety measures to prevent transmission, which should also be followed between housing and school.
  2. When leaving home, hand washing should be done for 20 seconds. Measure the students’ temperature when leaving home and keep a log.
  3. Students should avoid wearing bracelets, necklaces and must have their hair drawn back in a ponytail.
  4. Students from the age of 4 and their family/guardians should leave their homes with facemasks covering their mouth and nose while maintaining physical distance from people other than those living in the same home.
  5. Practice with students covering themselves with the forearm when sneezing or coughing.
  6. The students must wash their hands if touching any surface on the course. If not possible, have antibacterial gel or alcohol on hand.
  7. Avoid greeting with kisses and hugs or handshaking.
  8. The commuting should preferably be made to the appropriate destination (school to housing or vice versa). Parents and guardians should avoid going to other places to prevent school contagion.
  9. Avoid eating food during commuting, and preferably the student should eat at home before leaving.

PROCEDURES RELATED TO THE SCHOOL DAY DEVELOPMENT

HAND WASHING 

The school will follow the recommendations established by MINSA to perform constant hand washing to remove the transient flora and decrease infectious microorganisms’ spread.

Signs will be displayed with appropriate instructions for hand washing, words, and images explanation for children with proper use of hand washing next to each washbasin in the school.

All washbasin shall have liquid soap, alcohol gel, towel paper, and any items that require the prevention of in-school infections recommended by MINSA and MEDUCA. The classrooms and each space in the educational center will have alcohol gel at the entrance.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING PROTOCOL

Physical distancing means keeping 1.50 – 2.0 meters apart from other people within the school during the school day (marked on the floor and tables): 

  1. For no reason shall be greeted by hand, kiss, or hugs. Especially among parents and teachers.
  2. The United School of Panama has identified areas that require row floor demarcation.
  3. Only desks and/or chairs to be used will be available.
  4. Physical spaces within the school have classrooms with disinfection supplies.
  5. The United School of Panama will permanently guarantee the supply of drinking water, as well as water reserve tanks, as well as towel paper and soap in all bathrooms and places where staff and children will be able to hand wash frequently. Alcohol gel is also available at the entrance of each classroom and/or office/space, sports courts, and corridors.
  6. Given the need for additional spaces, the school may assess the possibility of conditioning other sites following the recommendations of MINSA and MEDUCA in this regard.

CAPACITY

The United School of Panama will adopt measures from common areas and classrooms to calculate the capacity of 50%, 40%, and 25%, considering that each child will occupy a space of 2m2 to 3m2

School resources, physical space, and mitigation measures for prevention of transmission

RESOURCES

The United School of Panama has the following resources and facilities for the mitigation of COVID-19 in a manner that promotes simultaneous activities with due distancing within the classroom or multiple areas:

  1. Cross-ventilation
  2. Large windows
  3. Air conditioning
  4. Washbasin in the ground and upper floor areas
  5. one table for every two or three students
  6. tables in cafeteria for 5 or 6 students (bigger tables)
  7. Individualized materials
  8. Large green areas
  9. Playgrounds

USE OF PERSONAL PROTECTION ITEMS

  1. All collaborators will use facemasks and any other PPE elements that we consider necessary. The nurse or person in charge of isolated students will also wear PPE clothing as a facemask, disposable gowns,
  2. All collaborators will be aware of the MINSA’s provisions for handling possible cases, wastes, etc.
  3. Children will bring a bottle of water to school. At lunchtime, masks can be removed. A new facemask should be used after eating.
  4. Desks and working tables will be spaced to allow greater distancing between children and meet the 1.5-2.0 meters distancing. Students must wear their facemask at all times during classes.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR RECESS AND BREAKS

For reducing the risk of transmission during recess or breaks, the following measures shall be applied:

  1. Recesses and lunch hours will be staggered to avoid agglomerations and ensure distance and efficient service. The groups will be divided per grade to meet the capacity and distance in the dining room and other areas assigned to eat. Students will wash their hands before and after eating.
  2. Only pre-packaged foods provided at school may be eaten.
  3. Their lunches will be consumed in their allocated spaces only.
  4. When finishing eating, children will place the trash one by one in the basket.
  5. Students will not be seated in front of each other.
  6. For groups of younger children, recess or breaks are performed inside the classroom. Students may go out to open areas once they have consumed their snacks.

CLEANING AND DISINFECTION OF INSTALLATIONS

For reducing the risk of transmission during the cleaning and disinfection of installations, the following measures shall be applied:

  1. The United School of Panama has developed a schedule for waste collection, cleaning, and disinfection of the facilities.
  2. The cleaning company, under the supervision of the administrative manager and the maintenance manager, shall ensure that the waste collection, cleaning, and disinfection are carried out according to established indications and timetables
  3. The cleaning and disinfection protocol for common areas, bathrooms, classrooms, materials, and so forth, in and out of school, includes products recommended by MINSA.
  4. Cleaning classrooms, bathrooms, and common areas will be done several times every day.
  5. The windows will be opened periodically to increase cross ventilation and airflow.
  6. Waste collection will be performed at the end of the day. Waste will be disposed of safely following MINSA recommendations.
  7. The safety of the cleaning agents is of utmost importance. They have daily PPE, which must be changed after each thorough cleaning of areas and waste disposal.

VISITS, MEETINGS, AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

For reducing the risk of transmission during on-site visits, meetings, and extracurricular activities, the following measures shall be applied:

  1. USP will reduce meetings or visits to educational facilities during the risk period due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. The use of information and communication technologies to maintain contact among teachers, students, managers, and parents will be promoted
  3. In the case of visits by collaborators from other institutions, the biosecurity measures recommended by the Ministry of Health will be applied
  4. Extracurricular activities will be carried out while maintaining the corresponding measures and capacity in each of the areas.

PROTOCOL FOR CASE DETECTION AND MANAGEMENT

PROTOCOL FOR CASE DETECTION AND MANAGEMENT

Actions to take in case of symptoms at school

For reducing the risk of transmission, if suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are detected, the following measures shall be applied:

1. If a collaborator detects a suspected COVID-19 case among students, teachers, or administrative staff, they must immediately notify the principal or head of the institution.

2. The suspicious case data must be registered, and any of the following actions must be taken:

  • – If it is a student, send the student to the designated area for suspicious cases and notify the parent. Recommend the parent to contact the appropriate health authorities. Distance measurements (2 meters) should be maintained, and it is recommended to not keeping the student for more than one hour in these designated spaces.
  • – If it is a teacher or administrative staff, register the relevant data and recommend contacting the appropriate health authorities. The collaborator must immediately leave the premises.

3. The nurse or person in charge of the care of the student or isolated collaborator will have all the necessary protective equipment (PPE) required until they leave the facilities.

4. The alleged case (student or collaborator) should see their doctor, who will determine whether a COVID-19 test is necessary.

Actions to take in case of symptoms at home

Students or collaborators with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 at home should not attend school and should notify their doctor, who will determine if a PCR test is necessary.

Actions to be taken in case of detecting a confirmed COVID-19 case at school

  1. If the PCR test result is positive, the family or collaborator must immediately notify the school and regional authorities. We have the Don Bosco Health Center as the first source of information and case reporting.
  2. The patient will follow MINSA recommendations, proceed with isolation until fully recovered, and/or have a negative test before returning to school.
  3. Students and/or teachers affected by being exposed to the alleged case will continue with virtual remote instruction until they meet the minimum isolation recommended to reintegrate into school.
  4. If necessary, the student’s siblings with symptoms will also be sent home until further information is received.
  5. Deep cleaning and disinfection measures of the facilities will be coordinated
  6. Contact Traceability: the school will notify all possible contacts to avoid further infections within the educational community. The Traceability Protocol will be followed
  7. Additional actions to be taken will be coordinated with the educational authorities depending on each case.

Actions to take when returning to school

  1. A person who has been confirmed as positive for COVID-19 may return to school after at least 14 days, have no further symptoms, and submit MINSA compliance certification.
  2. The identified contacts must remain in isolation until they meet the isolation days established by MINSA.

Actions to take when returning to school if you have been on a trip

Any member of the educational community who has been traveling must comply with all MINSA guidelines when returning to the country and school.

PROMOTION AND DIVULGATION ACTIONS

  1. USP will promote biosecurity measures with the students in charge, looking to motivate them in good practices of hand washing, cleaning and physical distancing (2 meters) and orderly interaction in the school
  2. Posters will be placed in visible spaces on the hygiene and prevention measures of COVID-19 in different school spaces: campus entrance, corridors, classrooms, teachers’ room, administrative offices, bathrooms, dining room, sports areas, auditorium, among others.
CLEANING AND DISINFECTION MONITORING MATRIX OFFICIAL AND PRIVATE EDUCATIONAL CENTERS
WASTE MANAGEMENT PROTOCOL
TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT STEPS UPON ENTERING THE SCHOOL FACILITIES
TRACEABILITY PROTOCOL
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