We know you’re feeling a lot of stress as the 2020 school year starts. For principals, teachers, and administrative staff, protecting your school during the COVID-19 pandemic feels like a gargantuan feat. We created this guide to help you cut through all the confusion and noise, so you can fully protect your students and faculty in the healthiest, safest, and most cost-effective way possible. We’ll go through the COVID-19 hot spots to watch out for in the building, some tips to keep your school free of COVID-19, and the PPE supplies you need to keep staff and students safe this year.
Hot spots to monitor
- Drinking fountains
- Desks and chairs
- Shared equipment (like computers, gym gear, books, pencil sharpeners, etc.)
- Bathrooms (particularly toilet flushers, faucet handles, and restroom doors)
- Cafeteria trays
- Backpacks (cloth backpacks can harbor bacteria that transfers from the home to school and vice versa)
- Light switches
Tips to keeping kids and staff safe
- Have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) available at all times. We’ll go through a list of essential PPE to have on-hand below.
- Use a contactless infrared thermometer to check students’ and teachers’ temperatures before they go into school or get on the bus. This prevents sick and feverish individuals from spreading the virus or other illnesses. See below for more information on using infrared thermometers.
- Place desks at least six feet apart and use plexiglass dividers at shared tables or around individual desks to further minimize the spread of germs.
- Require that students and teachers where a mask at all times. In most states, this is a law that schools will need to comply with.
- Discourage the use of drinking fountains. Instead, encourage children to bring reusable bottles from home. Some schools are installing water dispensers to fill reusable bottles, rather than having kids put their mouths near the fountain itself. (You may also want some water bottles on hand in case a child forgets their reusable bottle.)
- Install motion-detection lights that turn on when someone is in the room, rather than regular light switches that can spread germs.
- Have children put old cafeteria trays in a separate “dirty” pile, so they can be properly sanitized in the kitchen before reuse.
- Create a routine cleaning and disinfecting schedule for the janitorial staff. It might be time to start increasing their hours and pay, if it fits in the schedule and budget. They’re going to be doing a lot for your school this year.
- Don’t leave cleaning just to the janitors. Everyone needs to take part. That means teaching and establishing hygiene practices for students, teachers, and staff as well.
- Have teacher and faculty health/safety training at the start of the school year.
- Create “cleaning times” before class where kids learn to wipe down their desks and chairs and sanitize their hands. Teach young students to wash their hands properly. Communication, education, and reinforcing hygiene practices are critical this year and will (fortunately or unfortunately) take up a good portion of the learning experience. Part of going to school is learning life skills, like learning how to adapt to a global pandemic.
- MAKE IT FUN! Kids don’t want to feel fear when they walk into school. So, figure out ways to make staying healthy enjoyable and maybe even exciting. For example, encourage students to wear masks with fun designs and colors that share their personality or create fun, unique plexi glass desk spaces, like these Jeeps.
Essential PPE for your school
1. Infrared thermometer
If you decide to require a temperature check before starting the school day to minimize the risk of sick children and staff coming to school, an infrared thermometer is the best way to go. Our contactless infrared thermometer takes just seconds to get active, accurate results. School staff love using infrared thermometers because it is:
- Totally contactless, which prevents the spread of germs between students
- Super fast, so it won’t take hours to check everyone’s temperature
- Highly accurate, within 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- FDA and CE certified, so you can trust it will do its job
- Made to handle even the highest traffic areas
Buy a few infrared thermometers here to quickly and effectively check everyone’s temperatures, keeping your school healthy and safe before the day starts.
2. No-touch hand sanitizer dispensers
Prevent the spread of germs while sanitizing hands by offering automatic dispensers at germ hot spots. Our no-touch hand sanitizer dispensers use infrared motion technology to release just the right amount of hand sanitizer when a hand is underneath. It’s really easy to use, so it teaches kids healthy hygiene with just the wave of a hand.
Put these dispensers at all entry points where kids and staff will be coming and going. We recommend them at doorways in each classroom, along the hallway, in the principal’s office and reception area, and throughout the gym and cafeteria. Anywhere there are people, there should be hand sanitizer dispensers!
Your supplies manager will love that this dispenser is powered with AA batteries, so no outlets or wiring are needed. It also has a 23.7oz capacity, so it won’t run out quickly throughout the day. Plus, you save money when you buy our dispensers in bulk, so you can buy for the whole school without breaking the COVID-19 budget.
3. One-gallon gel sanitizer
Fill those dispensers with high-quality sanitizing gel. We offer a one-gallon option with bulk pricing, so you can supply the entire school for months. Our hand sanitizer is a gel, so it glides on and is fast to dry. It also has lavender in it, so you don’t get that harsh alcohol smell and it leaves hands feeling soft and happy. Faculty, students, and parents will be happy to see you’ve thought of their kids’ safety.
4. Disinfecting wipes
You’ll want disinfecting wipes available anywhere there are shared surfaces, like hallways, gyms, gym equipment, locker rooms, bathrooms, etc. Wipes are a great option because they’re easy to teach kids to use, and they can be thrown away after a single use. The easier it is to use, the more regularly staff and kids will use the wipes to disinfect—which means a cleaner and safer school. Plus, wipes are great for disinfecting small and hard-to-reach areas like doorknobs, handles, light switches, and gym equipment.
WeProtect offers 75% alcohol wipes, which meets the threshold to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. With 60 wipes per pack and no limit on how many packs you order, you can stockpile your school with effective disinfecting wipes in less than 5 days.
We know it’s been hard to find disinfecting wipes, so Rolling Stone also compiled a great list of in-stock and top-rated disinfecting wipes. Check out this EPA list to make sure the wipes you choose have safe and effective ingredients.
5. Plexiglass dividers
You’ll want to spread desks at least 6 feet apart, but plexiglass dividers (aka “sneeze guards”) can offer another layer of protection by containing germs within an individual area. We’ve all seen the pictures of “scary” schools with glass dividers—but it doesn’t have to look stark and dreary for kids. These teachers turned their students’ desks into Jeeps, which is such a cool idea, or you could encourage students to decorate their plexiglass guard however they’d like. A lot of kids like to pretend it’s an aquarium, so let them pick the sea animals they want to swim with!
We also highly recommend using these dividers in shared spaces, like computer rooms or library tables. This keeps students safe, even when working together.
6. Adult cloth masks
Show your teachers and faculty you care by offering them a pack of reusable cloth face masks. Some schools are requiring teachers wear the same cloth masks for a uniform look, while others are giving cloth masks just to show some extra love to their hardworking teachers.
What makes WeProtect’s cloth masks so unique is that it has 3-layers for protection, but the inside is 100% polyester so it’s breathable and comfortable. The ear-loops stretch for a secure fit around the face, so teachers won’t be distracted by an uncomfortable mask. Give your teachers the tools they need to focus on their students.
7. Face shields
Face shields offer an extra layer of protection, similar to plexi glass. This offers peace of mind for teachers with “direct splash protection,” since kids sometimes don’t understand personal space. Our face shields are the industry above-standard, as they’re optically clear and distortion-free, and they wrap-around the face for greater protection.
Face shields are used more for your own safety, while face masks are used to protect the safety of yourself and others. These face shields should be used in conjunction with masks, as they may not be effective enough on their own to prevent the spread if the wearer is sick.
8. Disposable kids’ masks
Without question, there’s going to be at least one child each day who forgets their mask. Rather than punish them or not let them learn, just keep a few extra disposable kids’ masks on hand. Parents will appreciate that you prioritize both health and learning.
PPE preparation for the 2020 school year
Getting ready for the 2020 school year doesn’t have to be stressful. With the right products and procedures, you can keep your kids and staff safe, healthy, and learning, even amidst a pandemic.
Check out this list of our recommended PPE products for the school year to protect the people in your school, while staying within budget: