A FRAMEWORK FOR LEARNING IN A PANDEMIC ENVIROMENT CASESTUDY: CORONA VIRUS DISEASE (COVID – 19)

By Lilliane Linnet Musoke and Abubaker Nyanzi 

The aim of this research was to develop a frame work for learning in pandemic environment (COVID -19) that can be implemented in a higher institution of learning in Uganda and how these interactive feature frameworks can be used to improve the quality of service and increases the customer satisfaction of the students in the learning process. The research used both qualitative and quantitative approaches, descriptive exploratory research design were used in the study. The novel CORONA VIRUS DISEASE -2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory virus transmitted between people when one sneezes, coughs or speaks. In addition, the virus can be contracted through touching contaminated surface then to eyes, mouth and nose. The corona virus pandemic offers a plethora of lessons on physical room lecturer to student learning. COVID -19 pandemic has proved urgency in Uganda to promote necessary transformations to education and learning in order to survive in 21St century. The global lockdown of academic institutions has interrupted students learning, it has interrupted the teaching for students around the world; the closure has coincided with the key assessment period and many exams have been postponed and cancelled. The careers of this year’s university graduates may severely be affected by the COVID -19 pandemic, they have experienced major teaching interruptions. The concept of social distancing is forcibly a significant change very fundamental in the educational sector, the 3feet to 6 feet   between interacting people guideline is at risk of infection due to earth theory. So ICT feels the gap as it supports tracing, tracking, monitoring, limiting quarantining, counselling large audiences as solution to the public health care.

For the education sector COVID-19 enters in a time of transition and conflict between traditional classroom and online learning. E-learning has been introduced as a tool in the learning process in the majority of the international universities worldwide. Although E-learning has existed for over a decade. The educational sector in Uganda, most institutions of higher learning are still working with traditional classroom environments. COVID-19 provides wisdom beyond human comprehension and how fragile interconnections and traditional learning life. Most institutions of higher learning in Uganda face many educational problems and obstacles that technology can help to overcome.  The research provides answers to what can be done to mitigate the negative effects of COVID 19 on leaning by designing a flexible e- learning   framework and technologies that succeed in facilitating teachers and teaching practitioners in designing and delivering education on the one hand, and in satisfying increased educational quality demands of our students on the other hand.

musokell@mru.ac.ug / 0783056626

bakernnyazi@yahoo.com / 0772546609

INTRODUCTION

The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and the virus has now spread to many countries and territories. While a lot is still unknown about the virus that causes COVID-19, we do know that it is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing) Individuals can also be infected from touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth). While COVID-19 continues to spread it is important that communities take action to prevent further transmission, reduce the impacts of the outbreak and support control measures.  The protection of children and educational facilities is particularly important. Precautions are necessary to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 in school settings

On 20th March, 2020, the Government of Uganda ordered the closure of all schools and learning institutions as measure to combat the spread of Covid-19 pandemic that has been sweeping the world since December, 2019. To date, COVID19-driven school closures have impacted over one billion students.1 By current World Bank information gathering, 150 countries2 are reporting school closures.  These numbers have increased rapidly since late February.   School closure decisions have to balance different factors. On one hand, despite the low rates of infection among children, school closures are a critical pillar of the social distancing tools to mitigate the spread of the disease and avoid an acceleration of cases that will put a strain on health services.  Its effectiveness as a measure to slow down the spread of contagion will depend on the exact timing of the closures, the age structure of the population and the length of the closure. Recent guidance from the United States Center for Disease Control (US-CDC) suggests that school closures do serve a purpose, in particular if COVID19 cases are school-based, to allow for decontamination and contact tracing.  It also recognizes its importance as a tool to increase social distance.  The reports note that a closure of 4 to 8 weeks might be required in case of substantial community spread. 

On the other hand, extended interrupted education that disengage students from the learning process has the potential cost of reversing gains in learning results. An even higher cost comes from the disengagement of students with learning challenges (academic, socio-economic, students with special/diverse educational needs or persons with disabilities) who may not effectively cope with remote learning strategies or cannot access the information .   School closings also impact labor supply as they increase the burden on parents, who need to stay home or find new arrangements if children have to stay at home (even worse if playground and children centers are closed). 

The purpose of this document is to provide clear and actionable framework  for safe operations through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in instituions of higher learning . The framework, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure requires many considerations but, if done well, can promote public health.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

It is already well documented that Covid-19 pandemic is the most dangerous health/social/economic crisis to face the world since World War II and the worst crisis to face Uganda  since independence. It is the duty of all parents to protect their children from the dangerous of Covid-19, thus the reason the Government saw it fit to close all schools on 20th, March, 2020 since children are safer at home then in congested environment such as the “100% transition”.

THE USE OF E-LEARNING IN EDUCATION

The development of information technologies and multimedia, also the use internet as a new technique of teaching, has made radical changes in the traditional process of teaching and learning (Wang et al. 2007). According to Yang and Arjomand (1999), development in information technology has generated more choices for today’s education. Agendas of schools and educational institutions have recognized E-Learning as having the prospect to transform people, knowledge, skills and Performance (Henry, 2001). Also according to Love and Fry (2006), colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning are in a race to advance online course capability in a speedily enveloping cyber education market. E-learning, has come to be more and more important in institutions of higher education.

The introduction and expansion of a range of E-Learning tools has been initiating several changes in higher education institutions, particularly when it comes to their educational delivery and support processes (Dublin, 2003). Just as there are different types of e- Learning, there are also different ways of employing the technique in education. Algahtani, (2011), in his evaluation of E-learning effectiveness and experience in Saudi Arabia, discovered three distinct models of using e-learning in education including the “adjunct, blended e-Learning and online”. The three ways of using e-Learning technologies as discovered by Algahtani (2011) are described below. The “adjunct e-Learning is the situation which e-Learning is employed as an assistant in the traditional classroom providing relative independence to the learners or students (Algahtani, 2011). In the blended e-Learning, Algahtani (2011) and Zeitoun (2008) explained that, in this way of using eLearning, the delivery of course materials and explanations is shared between traditional learning method and e-learning method in the classroom setting. The third one which is the online is devoid of the traditional learning participation or classroom participation. In this form of usage, the e- Learning is total so that there is maximum independence of the learners or students (Algahtani, 2011; Zeitoun, 2008). Zeitoun (2008) has gone further to explain that the online model is divided into the individual and collaborative learning, where the collaborative learning also consist of the synchronous and asynchronous learning (Zeitoun, 2008)

E-learning tools used in higher Education:

Web log

A blog short for web log is a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order. The term “blog” is a mingling of the words web and log. Blogs provide comments or news on a particular subject, some function as more personal online diaries. The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people would keep a running account of their personal lives. There web blogs, such as WordPress, Movable Type, blogger or LiveJournal, or on regular web hosting services, such as DreamHost. Social bookmarking Social bookmarking is a web-based service to share Internet bookmarks. The Social bookmarking sites are a popular way to store, classify, share and search links through the practice of folksonomies techniques on the Internet. In a social bookmarking system, users store lists of Internet resources that they find useful. 

Wiki 

A wiki is a website that allows visitors to add, remove, edit and change content, without the need for registration. It also allows for linking among any number of pages. 

RSS

RSS is a web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts, vodcasts etc. Users of RSS content use software programs called “feed readers” or “feed aggregators”. The user subscribes to a feed by entering a link to the feed into the reader program. The reader can then check the user’s subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user. Podcasting Podcasting is a fusion of two words: iPod, Apple’s popular digital music player, and broadcasting.  Podcasts are basically digital audio programs that can be subscribed to and downloaded by listeners by RSS (Really Simple Syndication). It can be accessed on an array of digital audio devices, like Mp3 players, desktop computer, laptops, mobiles etc. 

Instant Messaging

An instant messaging application allows one to communicate with another person over a network in relative privacy. There are many options like Gtalk, Skype, Meetro, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger and AOL for instant messaging. You can add associates to a contact list or buddy list, by entering their email address or messenger ID. 

Text chat

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and other online chat technologies allow users to join chat rooms and communicate with many people at once, publicly. Users may join a pre-existing chat room or create a chat room about any topic. Whether you are in another person’s chat room, or one you’ve created yourself, you are generally free to invite others online to join you. This facilitates both one-to-one communication and many-to-many interaction.

Internet forums Originaly modeled after the real-world paradigm of electronic bulletin boards of the world before Internet was born, internet forums allow users to post a “topic” for others to review. Other users can view the topic and post their own comments in a linear fashion, one after the other. Most forums are public, allowing anybody to sign up at any time.  Advantages or Benefits of E-learning the inclusion of E-learning in education, especially for higher educational institutions has several benefits. E-learning is considered among the best methods of education. Several studies and authors have provided benefits and advantages Derived from the adoption of e-learning technologies into schools (Klein and Ware, 2003; Algahtani, 2011; Hameed et al, 2008; Marc, 2002; Wentling et al. 2000; Nichols, 2003). Some studies  has proven the advantages of e-learning as its ability to focus on the needs of individual learners. For example Marc (2000) in his book review on e-learning strategies for delivering knowledge in digital age noted that one of the advantages of e-learning in education is its focus on the needs of individual learners as an important factor in the process of education rather than on the instructors’, or educational institutions’ needs.

Some of the advantages that the adoption of E- learning in education, obtained from review of literature includes the following:

1. It is flexible when issues of time and place are taken into consideration. Every student has right of choosing the place and time that suits him/her. According to Smedley (2010), the adoption of e-learning provides the institutions as well as their students or learners the much flexibility of time and place of delivery or receipt of according to learning information.

2. E-learning enhances the efficiency of knowledge and qualifications via ease of access to a huge amount of information.

3. It is able to provide opportunities for relations between learners by the use of discussion forums. Through this, e-learning helps eliminate barriers that have the potential of hindering participation including the fear of talking to other learners. 

4. E-learning motivates students to interact with other, as well as exchange and respect different point of views. E-learning eases communication and also improves the relationships that sustain learning. Wagner et al (2008) note that E-Learning makes available extra prospects for interactivity between students and teachers during content delivery

5. E-learning is cost effective in the sense that there is no need for the students or learners to travel. It is also cost effective in the sense that it offers opportunities for learning for maximum number of learners with no need for many buildings.

6. E-learning always takes into consideration the individual learners differences. Some learners, for instance prefer to concentrate on certain parts of the course, while others are prepared to review the entire course.

7. E-learning helps compensate for scarcities of academic staff, including instructors or teachers as well as facilitators, lab technicians etc.

8. The use of e-Learning allows self-pacing. For instance the asynchronous way permits each student to study at his or her own pace and speed whether slow or quick. It therefore increases satisfaction and decreases stress (Codone, 2001; Amer, 2007; Urdan and Weggen, 2000; Algahtani, 2011; Marc, 2002; Klein and Ware, 2003)

RED-LINE FOR OPENING SCHOOLS

The Government should NOT allow schools to re-open under any circumstance if the Covid-19 infection is still on the raise and community spread is continuing in certain areas such as Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and South Sudan and border areas

School-going children live in these areas and any re-opening of schools can resulting to spreading of Covid-19 to other pupils and students, who will have to walk or use public transport to both day and boarding schools. Children under 18 years of age are prone to getting Covid-19 as it is in Kenya and Tanzania  and medical research has shown they can spread the disease.

Although the Ministry of Health is undertaking mass testing on average (2,000 tests daily in May), the number done so far (76,984 by 19/5/2020) is still very low which is only 0.1% of Uganda’s 45 million people. The number of infections is growing as Uganda gets more cases and has reaching the landmark 300 mark with no deaths. Parents will be reluctant to allow their children to attend schools with such alarming figures, unless a vaccine for Covid-19 is found or infections reduced.

But development of a vaccine may take as long as 18 months or never found and the world will have to live with the disease just like HIV/Aids, malaria, etc. This means that our children will have to one day go back to school but keeping in mind precautions like social distancing, face masks, washing hands.

Uganda will have to step up testing in order to “flattening the curve” (slowing the spread of the epidemic so that the number of people requiring care at a time is reduced, and the health care system does not exceed its capacity).

 Hence “flattening the curve” is a red-line in order to decide whether or not to re-open schools. Even if it takes another one or two years, school should NOT re-open until the curve is flattened. Health officers should be ready at school gates to check temperature of all pupils/student entering or leaving DAILY, wearing of masks and ensure soap and clean water/hand-sanitizers are made available at all 24,000 schools in Uganda.

SCHOOLS SHOULD ONLY BE RE-OPENED WHEN THE ‘CURVE IS FLATTENED’

Hopefully the time the Government deems it safe to lift the overnight curfew and cessation of movements, the re-opening of schools can be considered.

In order to keep social distancing in schools, the re-opening should be staggered, giving priority to exams candidates for PLE, UACE and UACE, ensuring they are tested for Covid-19 before reporting to school as well as teachers and staff. If a candidate carries the disease to a school, then it will become a quarantine Centre for next 14 days and even parents would not be able to visit and/or remove their children.

The candidates going to a boarding school should be transported by the school’s own bus or buses hired by the Government to avoid them mixing with the public especially in taxis and public buses. The schools should be sensitized, before the candidates arrive, especially if they were being used as a quarantine center and unauthorized persons prohibited from entering. Special care must be taken in the toilets in schools as they have proved to be dirty and not properly cleaned and can be a potential source of Covid-19, more so if water supply is not adequate. Boarding schools should ensure they have a qualified nurse on duty 24/7 and a dedicated sick bay or sanatorium which can be isolated in case of cases of Covid-19.

Dormitories should have fewer beds to ensure spacing of more at least 2 meters between each other. This will mean building more dorms or using the school hall as a dormitory if funds or time does not allow. If the school hall is also used as dinning hall then the students should eat in classes while more dorms are built.

WHY UNIVERSITY AND HIGHER EDUCATION FINAL EXAMS MUST BE POSTPONED

There is no law that these exams cannot be postponed if there is an emergency like in the case of Covid-19 or even held in another year. Only the Ministry of Health should have the FINAL say when it will be suitable to hold BOTH exams as the health of the candidates comes first. Since a school year lasts average of 8 months for Primary and 9 months for Secondary, the first term of 2020 lasted 10 weeks and had only 3 weeks to run, which would have been used for revision and end of term exams.

These candidates will need a minimum of 3 months to prepare for the exams and research excluding a two week break to rest. My proposal is that both candidates report to school as soon as the Ministry of Health deems it safe for them to do so and necessary precaution for their safety and transport have been made as described above. If the Government gives go-ahead for re-opening of schools for exam candidates ONLY, then the 5 month timeline plus the 2 week holiday will run from that date.

For example, if the re-opening date is set for Monday, 31st August, 2020 then PLE exams will take place on Tuesday, 2nd February, 2021 until Thursday, 4th February, 2021. UACE will start on Friday, 5th February, 2021 and continue throughout month of February.  UCE practical exams will take place during January, 2021. The 2 week break for Christmas will take place from Monday, 21st December, to 4th January, 2021.

RE-OPENING OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS FOR NON-CANDIDATES

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, and closure of schools on 15th March, 2020, a decision has to be made to REPEAT the entire academic year for pupils in Primary schools except for 2020 PLE candidates who will sit for the exams in February, 2021 and move on to Form 1 in May, 2021. Since only 10 weeks were used during 1st term in 2020, and young children have little capacity to re-call what was learnt over one year later, hence the need to start afresh.

Even the so-called “On-line learning” being done by some schools cannot replace face-to-face interaction with teachers, and in any case, it is not recognized by the Government. It should be treated as homework or remedial studies so Ugandan parents should face the reality that their children will have to the REPEAT 2020 academic year in 2021. Parents of children who were to enter Pre-primary 1 in 2021 will have to wait another year as it would be risky to expose such young children (aged 4) to Covid-19.

Under the set timelines, the opening of Primary schools will take place on Monday 8th February, 2021 for Pre-Primary 1 $ 2,  P3  to P7 under a staggered system to avoid over-crowding and ensure social distancing. Young children have little awareness of social distancing hence the need to stagger those present on a single day within the school considering some have as many as 3,000 pupils.

I propose the staggering will be as follows to avoid all children being present in school at the same time:

MONDAY-CLASS P3, 4 &5

TUESDAY-P1, P2, P6 AND P7

WEDNESDAY-CLASS P5, 6 AND 7

THURSDAY-P1, P2, P5, P6 AND CLASS 7

FRIDAY-CLASS p3, P4 AND 7

To make up for loss of 3 days for the lower classes  their learning time will be extended in the afternoon up to 4 pm (most public school pupils in lower classes do not attend afternoon sessions). For the loss of 2 days, the learning time for Class 5 and 6 will be extended up to 5 pm. Being pre-candidates for PLE in 2022, the Class 7 will attend on all 5 days. The Ministry of Education will then set new school term dates for 2021 due to late opening of schools.

RE-OPENING OF SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR NON-CANDIDATES

I propose re-opening of Secondary schools for Form 1, 2 and 3 (repeating 2020 academic year) will be on Monday, 8th March, 2021 to give time for Form 4 to complete UCE and exit the school. This will allow social distancing as form 4s will not be present. To make up for loss of time, it is proposed that 1st term 2021 runs 12 weeks until Frida 28th may, 2021 (including Easter break.)

School holidays will be for only 2 weeks from Saturday, 29th may, 2021 and open on Monday, 14th June, 2012 for second term, which will then run for 10 weeks (without half term) and schools then close for august holidays until Monday, 13th September, 2021 when they will open for 3rd term. Third term will run for 10 weeks (with 1 week half term breaks from 17th to 24th October, 2021) until Friday, 26th November, 2021. Since there will be no form 4 students, 3rd term can be extended until end of November.

Conclusion while repeating an academic year is unprecedented in Uganda education history, but these unusual times which requires unusual action to keep our children safe. Having no PLE, UCE and UACE in 2021 should not be taken out of the norm as it happened once before in 198during NRS war that brought in the current government and no exams were held that year in parts beyond Katonga river.

My proposal has the aim of ensuring social distancing while ensuring the 2020 exams with in the shortest and safest time possible with minimal risk. This will continue the policy of ministry of education of having exams candidates in school duration of exams and have academic year run for full calendar.

Let’s not take risks with the lives of our children by reopening schools soon. After all, educationist Fagil Mande told Ugandans recently “dead people do not do exams”

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, TEACHERS AND STAFF

Basic principles following basic principles can help keep students, teachers, and staff safe at school and help stop the spread of this disease. Recommendations for healthy schools are:  • Sick students, teachers and other staff should not come to school • Schools should enforce regular hand washing with safe water and soap, alcohol rub/hand sanitizer or chlorine solution and, at a minimum, daily disinfection and cleaning of school surfaces  • Schools should provide water, sanitation and waste management facilities and follow environmental cleaning and decontamination procedures • Schools should promote social distancing (a term applied to certain actions that are taken to slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease, including limiting large groups of people coming together)

Know the latest facts Understand basic information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission. Stay informed about COVID-19 through reputable sources such as UNICEF, WHO and national health ministry advisories. Be aware of fake information/myths that may circulate by word-of-mouth or online.

Ensure safe school operations See ‘Checklist on Safe School Environments’ below Update or develop school emergency and contingency plans. Work with officials to guarantee schools are not used as shelters, treatment units, etc. Consider cancelling any community events/meetings that usually take place on school premises, based on risk.

Reinforce frequent handwashing and sanitation and procure needed supplies. Prepare and maintain handwashing stations with soap and water, and if possible, place alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizers) in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets. 

Clean and disinfect school buildings, classrooms and especially water and sanitation facilities at least once a day, particularly surfaces that are touched by many people (railings, lunch tables, sports equipment, door and window handles, toys, teaching and learning aids etc.)

Implement social distancing practices that may include: • Staggering the beginning and end of the school day • Cancelling assemblies, sports games and other events that create crowded conditions • When possible, create space for children’s desks to be at least one metre apart • Teach and model creating space and avoiding unnecessary touching 

Establish procedures if students or staff become unwell Plan ahead with local health authorities, school health staff and update emergency contact lists. Ensure a procedure for separating sick students and staff from those who are well – without creating stigma – and a process for informing parents/caregivers, and consulting with health care providers/health authorities wherever possible. Students/staff may need to be referred directly to a health facility, depending on the situation/context, or sent home. Share procedures with staff, parents and students ahead of time.

Promote information sharing Coordinate and follow guidelines from the national health and education authorities. Share known information with staff, caregivers and students, providing updated information on the disease situation, including prevention and control efforts at school. Reinforce that caregivers should alert the school and health care authorities if someone in their home has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and keep their child at home. Utilize parent-teacher committees and other mechanisms to promote information sharing. Also be sure to address children’s questions and concerns, including through the development of child-friendly materials such as posters which can be placed on notice boards, in restrooms, and other central locations. 

Adapt school policies where appropriate Develop flexible attendance and sick leave policies that encourage students and staff to stay home when sick or when caring for sick family members. Discourage the use of perfect attendance awards and incentives. Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by crosstraining staff. Plan for possible academic calendar changes, particularly in relation to breaks and exams.

Monitor school attendance Implement school absenteeism monitoring systems to track student and staff absence and compare against usual absenteeism patterns at the school. Alert local health authorities about large increases in student and staff absenteeism due to respiratory illnesses.

Plan for continuity of learning In the case of absenteeism/sick leave or temporary school closures, support continued access to quality education. This can include: • Use of online/e-learning strategies • Assigning reading and exercises for home study • Radio, podcast or television broadcasts of academic content • Assigning teachers to conduct remote daily or weekly follow up with students • Review/develop accelerated education strategies

Implement targeted health education Integrate disease prevention and control in daily activities and lessons. Ensure content is age-, gender-, ethnicity-, and disability-responsive and activities are built into existing subjects.

Address Mental Health/Psychosocial support needs Encourage children to discuss their questions and concerns. Explain it is normal that they may experience different reactions and encourage them to talk to teachers if they have any questions or concerns. Provide information in an honest, age-appropriate manner. Guide students on how to support their peers and prevent exclusion and bullying. Ensure teachers are aware of local resources for their own well-being. Work with school health workers/social workers to identify and support students and staff who exhibit signs of distress. 

Support vulnerable populations Work with social service systems to ensure continuity of critical services that may take place in schools such as health screenings, feeding programs or therapies for children with special needs. Consider the specific needs of children with disabilities, and how marginalized populations may be more acutely impacted by the illness or its secondary effects. Examine any specific implications for girls that may increase their risk, such as responsibility for taking care of the sick at home, or exploitation when out of school. 

CHECKLIST FOR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, TEACHERS AND STAFF

  1.  Promote and demonstrate regular hand washing and positive hygiene behaviors and monitor their uptake. Ensure adequate, clean and separate toilets for girls and boys   
  2. Ensure soap and safe water is available at age-appropriate hand washing stations   
  3. Encourage frequent and thorough washing (at least 20 seconds)   
  4. Place hand sanitizers in toilets, classrooms, halls, and near exits where possible 
  5. Ensure adequate, clean and separate toilets or latrines for girls and boys

 2. Clean and disinfect school buildings, classrooms and especially water and sanitation facilities at least once a day, particularly surfaces that are touched by many people (railings, lunch tables, sports equipment, door and window handles, toys, teaching and learning aids etc.)  o Use sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% (equivalent 5000ppm) for disinfecting surfaces and 70% ethyl alcohol for disinfection of small items, and ensure appropriate equipment for cleaning staff 

 3. Increase air flow and ventilation where climate allows (open windows, use air conditioning where available, etc.) 4. Post signs encouraging good hand and respiratory hygiene practices

5. Ensure trash is removed daily and disposed of safely.

PARENTS/CAREGIVERS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS Key Messages and Actions

NYANZI ABUBAKER-LECTURER ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY
FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

COVID-19 is a new virus and we are still learning about how it affects children. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children. The virus can be fatal in cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Know the latest facts Understand basic information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission. Stay informed about COVID-19 through reputable sources such as UNICEF and WHO and national health ministry advisories. Be aware of fake information/myths that may circulate by word-of-mouth or online.

Recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing, fever, shortness of breath) in your child Seek medical advice by first calling your health facility/provider and then take your child in, if advised. Remember that symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough or fever can be similar to those of the flu, or the common cold, which are a lot more common. If your child is sick, keep them home from school and notify the school of your child’s absence and symptoms. Request reading and assignments so that students can continue learning while at home. Explain to your child what is happening in simple words and reassure them that they are safe. 

Keep children in school when healthy if your child isn’t displaying any symptoms such as a fever or cough it’s best to keep them in school – unless a public health advisory or other relevant warning or official advice has been issued affecting your child’s school. 

Instead of keeping children out of school, teach them good hand and respiratory hygiene practices for school and elsewhere, like frequent handwashing (see below), covering a cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throwing away the tissue into a closed bin, and not touching their eyes, mouths or noses if they haven’t properly washed their hands.   Washing hands properly Step 1: Wet hands with safe running water Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including backs of hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with running water Step 5: Dry hands with a clean, dry cloth, single-use towel or hand drier as available

Wash your hands often, especially before and after eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom/ toilets/latrines and whenever your hands are visibly dirty.  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water, if hands are visibly dirty.

Help children cope with the stress Children may respond to stress in different ways. Common responses include having difficulties sleeping, bedwetting, having pain in the stomach or head, and being anxious, withdrawn, angry, clingy or afraid to be left alone. Respond to children’s reactions in a supportive way and explain to them that they are normal reactions to an abnormal situation. Listen to their concerns and take time to comfort them and give them affection, reassure them they’re safe and praise them frequently.

If possible, create opportunities for children to play and relax. Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before they go to sleep, or help create new ones in a new environment. Provide age-appropriate facts about what has happened, explain what is going on and give them clear examples on what they can do to help protect themselves and others from infection. Share information about what could happen in a reassuring way.

For example, if your child is feeling sick and staying at home or the hospital, you could say, “You have to stay at home/at the hospital because it is safer for you and your friends. I know it is hard (maybe scary or even boring) at times, but we need to follow the rules to keep ourselves and others safe. Things will go back to normal soon.” 

CHECKLIST FOR PARENTS/CAREGIVERS & COMMUNITY MEMBERS

1. Monitor your child’s health and keep them home from school if they are ill

2. Teach and model good hygiene practices for your children  

  • Wash your hands with soap and safe water frequently. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water, if hands are visibly dirty
  • Ensure that safe drinking water is available and toilets or latrines are clean and available at home o Ensure waste is safely collected, stored and disposed of
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth, nose

3. Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings with you and their teachers. Remember that your child may have different reactions to stress; be patient and understanding.   

4. Prevent stigma by using facts and reminding students to be considerate of one another 

5. Coordinate with the school to receive information and ask how you can support school safety efforts (though parent-teacher committees, etc.)

STUDENTS AND CHILDREN

Children and young people should understand basic, age-appropriate information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission. Stay informed about COVID-19 through reputable sources such as UNICEF, WHO and national health ministry advisories. Be aware of fake information/myths that may circulate by word-of mouth or online.

CHECKLIST FOR STUDENTS AND CHILDREN

1. In a situation like this it is normal to feel sad, worried, confused, scared or angry. Know that you are not alone and talk to someone you trust, like your parent or teacher so that you can help keep yourself and your school safe and healthy.    O Ask questions, educate yourself and get information from reliable sources

2. Protect yourself and others   o Wash your hands frequently, always with soap and water for at least 20 seconds   o Remember to not touch your face   o Do not share cups, eating utensils, food or drinks with others 

3. Be a leader in keeping yourself, your school, family and community healthy.    o Share what you learn about preventing disease with your family and friends, especially with younger children   o Model good practices such as sneezing or coughing into your elbow and washing your hands, especially for younger family members 

4.    Don’t stigmatize your peers or tease anyone about being sick; remember that the virus doesn’t follow geographical boundaries, ethnicities, age or ability or gender.

5.   Tell your parents, another family member, or a caregiver if you feel sick, and ask to stay home.

Age-specific health education 

Below are suggestions on how to engage students of different ages on preventing and controlling

COVID-19 TRANSMITION DIAGRAM

        Architecture engineer Agonzibwa David(virtualBeats IT)

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