The Alabama Department of Public Health released its back to school toolkit this week.
The 86-page plan details best practices for county health departments and school districts. The department says “The toolkit will be used by ADPH staff to inform and support schools in their efforts to reduce COVID-19 transmission and will also be shared with school systems as a resource for local decision-making.”
It lists the following steps for schools to follow to prevent the spread of coronavirus:
• Encourage all students and staff to wear masks.
• Set up rooms, hallways and lunchrooms where cohorts of students can remain at least six feet apart. The 6 foot distance is supported by current research. COVID-19 spread occurs mainly among people who are within 6 feet for a prolonged period of time (15 minutes or more). When an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings or talks, the droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and may land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or inhaled into the lungs of close contacts.
• Ensure all students have access to soap and water for frequent handwashing (20 seconds or more). Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol may be used when hands are not visibly dirty and soap and water are not readily available.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
The toolkit also lists “key principles to consider for reopening schools” as social distancing, face coverings, face shields, seating charts in classrooms and on buses, student movement within schools, meals, handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer, and cleaning and disinfecting.
If a student or staff member tests positive or is ill with coronavirus-like symptoms, the department says the following steps will be followed:
• Step One: Isolation
• Step Two: Identify close contacts to symptomatic staff or student
• Step Three: Report to ADPH
• Step Four: School communication with parents/guardians and school staff
• Step Five: Cleaning and disinfecting classroom
The plan also includes documents from the CDC, including a General Readiness Assessment, Daily/Weekly Readiness Assessment, Preparing for if Someone Gets Sick and Special Considerations and Resources.
You can find the full plan below. You can find start dates and individual back to school plans for districts in North Alabama here.