Coronavirus: barrier gestures, canteen, break... health protocol for schools

Published by Laurent P., Julie M. · Published on 3 May 2020 at 19h04 · Updated on 4 May 2020 at 11h06
This Sunday May 3, 2020, the Minister of the National Education released the health protocol to reopen kindergartens and elementary schools. A health protocol we got to look at...

Despite coronavirusschools will reopen on May 11 and to welcome students again in the upcoming days, let us have an update on the recommendations of the health protocol proposed by the Minister of the National Education. The sixty-page document very precisely sets up with data sheets for the schools’ heads, teachers and the entire staff working in schools, the measures to set up for them to reopen.

The Health Minister put a video on Coronavirus online as explained to children:

 In concrete terms,, how will children go back to school after deconfinement:

Facemask wearing

Many parents wonder: should children wear a facemask at school? The answer depends on their level and age. For kindergarteners, "Facemasks are to proscribe" the protocol explains, while for pupils in elementary schoolfacemask is not always recommended, excluding if students are able to wear one "without misusing" it. As for junior high schoolers and high schoolers, facemasks are mandatory "in any situation where social distancing rules may not be upheld (people coming to students for special teaching needs and while moving around the classroom)".

If a student shows symptoms, all level mixed? It's the school doctor to make the call. As for the teaching staff and other contributors, (primary school teachers, teacher's aides, teaching assistants, school life and so on), masks will be mandatory. Note that two masks a day will be given to people working within schools.

Washing hands regularly and compulsorily

The most effective barrier gesture against contamination, washing hands is mandatory to every student: "before going into the classroom, especially after breaks, before and after each meal, before going to the bathroom and after, after blowing their noses, coughing or sneezing, the night before going back home and as soon as they are home" the document says. A true war upon the virus within schools and thorough organization that headmasters will have to follow to enable access to the bathrooms without any contamination risk.

And what if there are not enought water points? "If there are not enough water points, using hand sanitizer is possible, included for the youngest if thoroughly supervised by an adult" the protocol explains too. No matter what, bathrooms will remain open to avoid any contact and rules as for washing their hands will have to be respected by the school staff.

Limited number of pupils per classroom

A topic often addressed by the Minister of the National Education, the number of pupils per class raises many questions from schools and parents. Questions the health protocol answers: the number of pupils in schools will depend on its size and the capacity so that children can resume their studies safely.

As for classrooms, tables will be spaced. The health protocol gives an example: "A 50sqm classroom should welcome 16 people" it reads. Classes limited to 15 pupils, sometimes fewer.

Break: what is allowed and banned

Perhaps one of the most awaited moments by students, breaks make yet everything more difficult: students will have to uphold social distancing, but many measures have been made to make this moment as safe as possible. So, ball games and contact are simply banned, so are all games "implying exchanges of items".

Breaks that will spread in time, on a day or be shorter to avoid groups of pupils to walk by each other. The protocol recommends to avoid "gatherings of different levels, to adapt and limit break times depending on the number of pupils". Note that for kindergartens and elementary schools, play structures (slides...) which surface cannot be disinfected will be banned.

How about the canteen

Another highlight of the day, the canteen will have to follow a strict protocol to avoid contamination risk. So, services will be spread and food will not be shared under any circumstances. Same call for glasses of water and cutlery. And what if the protocol cannot be respected, headmasters will demand children to have their meal in their own classrooms, "on the watch of an adult and in the form of a tray or basket". As for social distancing, same thing as in classrooms: one meter distance to uphold and mandatory hand-washing before AND after going to the canteen.

Walking in corridors

To make sure pupils will not walk by each other and to uphold social distancing, headmasters will have to set up a one-way direction of traffic within schools, and plan several entrances for a safe access to the premises. Within classrooms, it is asked to "limit passing, for instance by setting up a direction of traffic within the class that can be given tangible form on the floor".

For the entrance and exit of children, they can be scattered to avoid gatherings in front of the doors, and "depending on the number of students per rooms and staff present". As for junior high schools, classes will be given rooms they will not leave between each class. Teachers will have to move from classroom to classroom to avoid contacts as much as possible.

And what about children showing symptoms?

Before going to school, parents are invited to check their children's temperature and in case of fever (or any other symptom), the access to the premises will be simply banned. Yet, in case symptoms appear throughout the day, the pupil will be immediately isolated and will have to wear a mask, or not, depending on the decision from the school doctor (even though it is highly recommended).

Temperature will be checked and parents will have to come and pick up their child to have them tested. If the test is positive, people who have been in contact with the pupil will have to show up and be followed up. Note that "two-week quarantine, closing classrooms, level or schools are decisions likely to be made" the document reads.

Practical information

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