Pediatricians Guide to Reopening Schools Safely
To assist educators and families in students’ and staffs’ safe return to school, the ABC Science Collaborative, funded by the National Institutes of Health, has published a twelve point plan. Leading the investigation, Duke University professors of Pediatrics focused on epidemiology and critical-care research and found that schools are not hotbeds of rapid on-campus transmission of COVID-19. Partnering with nearly 50 school districts in North Carolina, the ABC Science Collaborative developed a game plan to safely reopen schools. Education Week ® published the 12 steps in its recent article, “We Are Pediatricians. Here’s How to Reopen Schools Safely: 12 principles for defining safe reopenings.” The following are the first two principles from that article:
- Be transparent. Schools should report all COVID-19 cases weekly. We know that schools are rarely super-spreaders and that infection rates in schools are reflective of infection rates in communities—not vice versa. Reporting cases makes this fact clear.
- Make a road map for contact tracing and testing. School districts and health departments should make these road maps available to the public in writing to describe exactly who will do what for successful contact tracing. This should include timing and the details of how tracing happens and highlight the differences for how this is done for young children (who may not have effective verbal communication) as well as adults.
To learn the remaining 10 principles to aid in safe school reopening, please visit: https://www.edweek.org/leadership/opinion-we-are-pediatricians-heres-how-to-reopen-schools-safely/2021/01?utm_source=nl&utm_medium=eml&utm_campaign=eu&M=59852059&U=&UUID=e026a7337d81d9d5e10ba33f54240b5c
Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace
On January 29, 2021, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued updated guidance for planning purposes when returning employees to work. Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. Employers and workers should use this guidance to help identify risks of being exposed to and of contracting COVID-19 in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.
The full guidance can be found at https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework.
Following is the Executive Summary from the guidance.
This guidance is intended to inform employers and workers in most workplace settings outside of healthcare to help them identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 at work and to help them determine appropriate control measures to implement. Separate guidance is applicable to healthcare (CDC guidance) and emergency response (CDC guidance) settings. OSHA has additional industry-specific guidance. This guidance contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that is spread most commonly through respiratory droplets and particles produced when an infected person exhales, talks, vocalizes, sneezes, or coughs. COVID-19 is highly transmissible and can be spread by people who have no symptoms. Particles containing the virus can travel more than 6 feet, especially indoors, and can be spread by individuals who do not know they are infected.
Face Coverings, either cloth face coverings or surgical masks, are simple barriers that help prevent respiratory droplets from your nose and mouth from reaching others. Face coverings protect those around you, in case you are infected but do not know it, and can also reduce your own exposure to infection in certain circumstances. Wearing a face covering is complementary to and not a replacement for physical distancing.
Employers should implement COVID-19 Prevention Programs in the workplace. The most effective programs engage workers and their union or other representatives in the program's development, and include the following key elements: conducting a hazard assessment; identifying a combination of measures that limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace; adopting measures to ensure that workers who are infected or potentially infected are separated and sent home from the workplace; and implementing protections from retaliation for workers who raise COVID-19 related concerns.
The guidance below provides additional detail on key measures for limiting the spread of COVID-19, starting with separating and sending home infected or potentially infected people from the workplace, implementing physical distancing, installing barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained, and suppressing the spread by using face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment (PPE), when necessary, improving ventilation, providing supplies for good hygiene, and routine cleaning and disinfection.
OSHA will continue to update this guidance over time to reflect developments in science, best practices, and standards, and will keep track of changes for the sake of transparency. In addition, OSHA expects to continue to update guidance relevant to particular industries or workplace situations over time.