Infection Prevention and Control

COVID-19 Update Related to School Closures

The provincial government has announced a new school closure order which extends the closure of schools until the end of May. The government has made assurances that as this date approaches, the decision to reopen schools will be reevaluated based on public health advice and, if necessary, the school closure may be extended.

When schools do reopen, precautions will need to be taken by school boards for the protection of staff and students. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and, as events unfold, will update this website with information related to the reopening of schools.  

As part of the government’s focus on Continuity of Learning for students, the Ministry of Education indicated that,

“Based on consultation with local public health, boards will allow teachers to re-enter their schools to retrieve laptops and curriculum materials and personal effects.  The protocol for school access should ensure the health and safety of all school board staff as well as the public.”

For those members who are questioning whether or not to leave their homes and reenter their school, ETFO President Sam Hammond, in a tweet on March 30, 2020, told ETFO members that entering their “worksites during this uncertain time is 100% voluntary.”  He went on to say that “if you do choose to enter your worksite please make sure you follow all of the established protocols.”

Protection from the Coronavirus and Influenza

School boards take direction from local public health services on what steps to take to protect staff and students from new and emerging viruses, like COVID-19 and influenza outbreaks. 

Advice from public health may vary and change as the situation evolves locally and provincially. Check your school board’s internal communications for recent updates from Public Health which may speak to how public health your school board will be advised on such things as whether to self-quarantine and if additional cleaning protocols are necessary.

To prevent transmission, school boards should be providing reminders on practicing proper hygiene techniques, staying home from work if you are sick, and ensuring soap and paper towels are available at sinks for handwashing.

If you have concerns related to your school board’s response to COVID-19 and influenza, speak to your principal and, if your concerns persist, contact your local ETFO health and safety representative or office. 

A hot house for infection

Avoiding contact with people who carry infection can be a real challenge in an elementary school.  Routine practices are essential for preventing and controlling infection. For example:

  • Hand hygiene that includes washing at a sink with soap and paper towels and access to hand sanitizers
  • Protective gloves – and the training for proper use – for staff who could come into contact with blood or body fluids
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette such as the use and disposal of paper tissue; coughing or sneezing into the elbow
  • Adequate custodial staffing and  procedures to properly clean high touch surfaces including washrooms, door knobs and shared equipment

In addition, people who are too sick to be at school should stay at home until they are well again.  Report any concerns about infection prevention and control to your principal.  It’s the  principal’s job to investigate and deal with your report. Tell your steward and your health and safety representative about your concerns.  Get in touch with your ETFO local for more support. Infection prevention and control can help to reduce sick days!

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