Langley School District has posted its pandemic response plan to its website, the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak and official pandemic.
The plan says that during a major outbreak – which is not yet underway in British Columbia – there may be large numbers of students and staff absent due to illness.
Prevention is key, the plan says, and lays out a number of important elements, including:
• Educating staff and students in hand washing frequency and technique, and cough/sneeze etiquette
• Ensuring adequate soap in dispensers in classrooms that have a sink, and all washrooms
• Conducting routine cleaning of schools and district sites
• Advising staff and students who are ill, particularly if they have a fever or diarrhea, to stay home until they are able to fully participate as they usually would in work/school activities
• Reminding staff of the 10 per cent illness reporting protocol and monitoring absence rates as they approach that rate
The 1o per cent protocol means that if more than 10 per cent of a total school population is out sick, or more than 10 per cent of students in one classroom are showing similar symptoms, schools are to report that to their assistant superintendent.
The plan also notes that principals are to create an isolation room for staff or students who become ill with flu-like symptoms while at school or a district office.
The plan for an actual pandemic will be activated when the B.C. provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has declared it is time, the plan says.
The document lays out which staff members, from teachers and principals up to the superintendent of schools, are responsible for different aspects of the plan, from teaching handwashing up to isolating sick kids on field trips.
Closing of schools would be done only at the direction of the provincial health officer or the Fraser Health medical health officer, or the Ministry of Education.
It notes that “Schools may be used by officials for clinics, hospitals, daycare centres etc.”
The document plan continues into a post-pandemic period and directs who is responsible for re-opening schools and dealing with staff shortages or a lack of enough bus drivers in the immediate aftermath.