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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 726-727  

Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Implications for schools and strategies to prevent school-based transmission


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission11-Mar-2020
Date of Decision23-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance03-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication06-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet - 603108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_89_20

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  Abstract 


The ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has finally been declared as a pandemic not only because of the caseload and the geographical distribution, but also because of the expectation that the prevailing trends suggest that the number of cases, attributed deaths and also the number of affected nations is expected to increase further. Amidst all these alarming developments, it becomes an important priority for the health professionals and stakeholders to ensure that school children and educational facilities are protected adequately. There is a need to ensure that measures are taken in school settings to prevent the entry and spread of the causative virus through those individuals who might have been exposed to it. In conclusion, the current trends suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic is there to stay and affect a greater number of individuals and nations. Amidst all these health concerns, it becomes our responsibility to not only safeguard the health status of school-going students, but also ensure that their learning is not affected and thus a balanced and an evidence-based approach is the need of the hour.

Keywords: COVID-19 outbreak, Schools, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Implications for schools and strategies to prevent school-based transmission. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2021;14:726-7

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Implications for schools and strategies to prevent school-based transmission. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 30];14:726-7. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/text.asp?2021/14/6/726/320709



The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak was declared as a pandemic not only because of the caseload and the geographical distribution but also because of the models that predicted that the number of cases, attributed deaths, and also affected nations is expected to increase further.[1],[2] The available evidence suggests that the disease till date has accounted for 25,44,792 cases and 175,694 deaths, which amount to a case fatality rate of 6.9% which is very much higher than seasonal influenza.[1] At present, the European region and the American region are the most affected and China no longer remains the epicenter of the disease; nevertheless, the possibility of large-scale community transmission cannot be ruled out in any of the nations.[1]

The available evidence has depicted that close contact remains the most frequent mode of the disease transmission and all measures should be taken to avoid this either by reducing the number of events of mass gathering or by avoiding less important travel or even by practicing social distancing.[1],[2],[3] Amid all these alarming developments, it becomes an important priority for the health professionals and stakeholders to ensure that schoolchildren and educational facilities are protected adequately. Implementation of aggressive strategies by the school management is extremely important as they act as perfect settings (due to overcrowding, difficulty to maintain physical distancing, susceptible population due to lack of immunity, aggregation of students from different backgrounds and settings in one common place, etc.) for the sudden reporting of cluster of cases.[2]

There is an indispensable need to ensure that measures are taken in school settings to prevent the entry and spread of the causative virus through those individuals who might have been exposed to it.[4] The school management should limit the number of organized events and meetings which necessitates close contact, stay abreast with the recent developments in the field of containment of the infection, and formulate an emergency repose plan for a potential emergence of the outbreak in their settings.[2] However, these measures should be taken in such a way that we do not stigmatize some specific students or staffs in the process, as that will lead to lots of social and health-related (difficulty in effective containment of the infection) consequences.[2],[3],[4]

Acknowledging the magnitude of the problem and the need to avert the scope of school-based transmission, the international welfare agencies have together released guidelines to safeguard children and schools from the novel virus.[4] Apart from proposing a roadmap for the nations to implement an emergency plan in school settings, a specific checklist has also been designed for the school administrators, teachers, and staffs to monitor the situation within their jurisdictions. The checklist comprises five essential elements, namely promotion and demonstration of regular handwashing, cleaned and disinfected school buildings (viz. those surfaces which are touched by a multiple number of people-railings, door and window handles, etc.) and sanitation facilities, better ventilation services, display of information envisaging better hand and respiratory hygiene practices, and removal and disposal of trash every day.[2],[4] The schools should earmark a specific room for isolation of the suspect cases and even offer the premises to the government authorities if they require the same for quarantine sake due to operational constraints.[2],[4]

If the school administration decides to close the school, it is important for the administrators to design a robust plan which ensures monitoring the learning of the students and does not impact their learning process.[4] However, if the administration decides to keep the schools open, then measures should be taken to improve the protection of students and staffs in schools and to improve the environmental attributes in the school premises.[4],[5] On the positive note, school provides an opportunity for the students to be empowered with the right information, and then, they can act as a change agent in their homes or local communities. It is extremely important that the basic principles should be strictly adhered, like sick students/staff should not come to school till recovery, enforcement of regular handwashing using soap and water, improved sanitation and waste disposal facilities, and encouragement of social distancing (through cancellation of school assembly and sports or designing a model to avoid unnecessary touching).[2],[3],[4],[5]

Moreover, it is crucial that both the staff and students are aware about the symptoms of the disease, how it is being transmitted and what has to be done, if we become symptomatic.[4],[5] All efforts have to be taken to avert the spread of false messages/myths about the disease. At the same time, the administrators should not allow the organization of any community events within their premises, as it enhances the risk of exposure of the virus to the school inmates.[4],[5] Further, the school administrators should formulate the action plan on how to respond, if a school inmate becomes unwell and sharing of all the necessary information with students, staffs, and parents. Finally, steps should also be taken to monitor the attendance patterns of students/staff and meeting the psychosocial needs of the staff.[2],[4]

In conclusion, the current trends suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic is there to stay and affect a greater number of individuals and nations. Amid all these health concerns, it becomes our responsibility to not only safeguard the health status of school-going students but also ensure that their learning is not affected and thus a balanced and an evidence-based approach is the need of the hour.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report 94; 2020. Available from:https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200423-sitrep-94-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=b8304bf0_4. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 24].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19: Guidance for Schools and Child Care Programs-Before and During an Outbreak; 2020. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 24].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Lee A. Wuhan novel coronavirus (COVID-19): why global control is challenging? Public Health 2020;179:A1-2.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
UNICEF, WHO, IFRC. Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools-March 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/key-messages-and-actions-for-covid-19-prevention-and- control-in-schools-march-2020.pdf?sfvrsn=baf81d52_4. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 12].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Health Organization. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-3.  Back to cited text no. 5
    



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[Pubmed] | [DOI]



 

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