Weathering the Storm at Schools in the Time of COVID-19
Many states are starting to open again after shutting down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But schools in particular are either closed or look very different from how they did before President Trump declared a national emergency. Still, life goes on, and you may have other situations that require your immediate attention during this uncertain time, such as severe weather.
If you run a school, take a look at your emergency plan. Is it still accurate? Is the person who is designated as team leader still able to fulfill that function during the pandemic? Have you established emergency procedures that no longer apply in a time of social distancing? If you have a generator, flashlights, batteries or other items with which you intend to provide emergency power, make sure you properly disinfect them.
Some schools serve as shelters in the event of severe weather. If your school is closed and unable to fulfill this role in your community, communicate that clearly on your website, social media and signage.
On the other hand, you may consider temporarily opening again as a community shelter. Before making any decisions, check on whether that’s even a possibility. The American Red Cross disaster response is different from what it was before the pandemic—in many cases, the organization is providing hotel rooms for those who need shelter. You may be able to become a Red Cross designated shelter—allowing that organization to provide operational and logistical support. The best way to find out is to contact the Red Cross.
If your facility is needed in your community during the pandemic situation, take these additional precautions:
- Require health screening on admission (by either public health staff or health care professionals) with a separate screening area.
- Provide a minimum of 110 square feet of space per client.
- Enforce social distancing.
- Require face coverings for staff, volunteers and clients.
- Manage feeding times to avoid lines and not allowing self-service.
- Establish a limitation on items that can be brought into the shelter and/or donated due to sanitization requirements.
- Enhance your cleaning and disinfecting schedule.
- Set up additional hand-washing stations and provide hand sanitizer.
- Provide a separate isolation care area with physical separation from the “dormitory” area, which is managed by health care professionals.
- Staff a screening area and shelter entrance/exit 24/7.
- Collect contact information for all people using the shelter so you have a means of contact tracing should an infection occur.
Need more information about staying safe when severe weather hits? Visit churchmutual.com/weather for preparedness guides, resources and more.
Have questions? Contact Risk Control Central today.
Call: (800) 554-2642 (Option 4) Ext. 5213