Small children may have difficulty understanding and adhering to COVID-19 guidelines
This week, COS will be publishing health and safety articles written by students at Toronto’s Humber College. The articles were initially part of an assignment for the OHS Management Systems course taught by Jeet Tulshi MBA, PMP, CRSP. Students took the course as part of the OHS Certificate program at Humber, with a longer term goal of meeting the academic requirements to sit for the CRSP exam.
Everyone has a part to play in minimizing the exposure of COVID-19 to ensure a safe workplace. This is even more critical for those working with school-aged children who may not fully grasp the impact of this virus. By nature, children like to play with their friends, are talkative and love to touch and share. We were all encouraged as children to be explorers and use our hands to be creative. Now we encourage social distancing and mask usage which may be difficult for small children to adhere to. Thus, it is important for school staff, despite the workplace’s risk level, to have leadership, training, and communicational skills to protect our children.
All staff within the school environment needs to be trained. Employers have a duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace under occupational health and safety legislation. This includes any current recommendations from public health, occupational health, and safety regulators.
Training should focus on the following:
• Ensure workers know about the virus and the steps the workplace is taking to stop its spread.
• Communicate COVID-19 information to workers using languages and formats that they clearly understand.
• Establish policy for what is expected of workers and students if they are sick, exposed to COVID-19, or have symptoms of COVID-19. Staff or students who are sick should stay home.
• Institute safe work practices and procedures with emphasis on PPE requirements. Ensure students are doing the same and socially distancing as appropriate. Staff and students must always wear masks or face coverings except when eating or drinking.
• Note the importance of hand sanitation as well as frequent cleaning of equipment and high-traffic areas.
• Encourage students to use their own resources.
We are all going through a challenging time, and while staff are trying to keep children safe at school, we understand they cannot predict who will be taking the virus from home to school. Therefore, it is important to do risk assessment, recognize the symptoms of the virus, and report it to the relevant authorities as soon as possible to keep other children safe at school.