Saigon South International School in Vietnam had to close after following government mandates on 2 February 2020 in wake of COVID-19. They were given the green light to reopen after passing the government’s COVID-19 safety measures.
Their new protocols fall under three categories:
3) systems, including hygiene.
Since physical distancing is the key to avoiding the spread of Coronavirus, they took many measures to ensure that they follow social distancing guidelines in common spaces.
The classrooms were spaced, students’ desks were parted 1.5 meters apart, following the guideline from the World Health Organization.
For the hallways, they stuck large blue dots 1.5 meters away from each other to show students how far they should be from each other while walking in a single-file for to and fro.
In the recess, students are not allowed to play basketball, though football can be played. A teacher is always assigned duty in each part of the playground to remind students to maintain social distancing.
During cafeteria time, the school is using picnic-style tables with benches on one side of the table tapped off to make sure students are sitting apart.
In the library, they have placed cushions that are spaced 1.5 meters away from each other. Half of each sofa is taped off to ensure physical distancing as well, with only one student per table.
To reopen, they had to prove to the government that they had protocols ready and implementable to prevent large crowds of people from congregating. This meant restructuring schedules and changing them so that different groups of students use the space at different times.
Here’s an example:
Elementary: 7:30 AM with a staggered afternoon dismissal
Middle: 8:30 AM & 3:30 PM
High: 8:45 AM & 3:45 PM
Since elementary students need more time and guidance to maintain social distancing, teachers take them to the see-off area where parents wait, socially distanced on their blue dots, in lines outside the gate. At a designated time, they are allowed to walk through the gate and pick up their child. They also undergo temperature screening.
No one is allowed to linger on campus. Students who have not been picked up during their 15-minute window are led to a student waiting area in the lobby, where chairs are set out 1.5 meters apart.
Since the school provides meals and has a high-school cafeteria that’s shared between the middle and elementary school, they have come up with time frames to keep with physical distancing measures. The elementary school students eat in their classrooms, they order their meals in the morning. Teachers support students as the latter clean off their desk afterwards.
For middle and high school, they have divided the time, while sixth-graders eat in the cafeteria, seventh graders are in their homerooms reading, and eighth-graders can choose between the gym, library, or playing outside. Then sixth graders move to their independent reading in their homerooms, seventh-graders are outside, and eighth-graders go to the cafeteria.
Amidst all this, hygiene is kept at the highest priority. All students, educators, and employees of the school have their temperatures checked before entering the building. Everyone is required to wear a mask in the hallway and common areas. Students are given sanitizers before entering a classroom and are mandated to wash hands before eating and after coming back from the playground.
They were lucky enough to have a graduation ceremony recently. The convocation was to be held outdoors and for that, they put large tents to house graduates along with two members of their immediate families, and teachers.
Schools around the world can take a note from this Viatnameese school and have contingency plans ready for now and an unpredictable future.
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