There was a time when wearing seatbelts was a foreign concept.
For years, it was considered normal to drive without one and a look around at others behind the wheel only confirmed that is was common practice among many.
But that changed 33 years ago when the mandatory seatbelt law came into effect and now the change in people's habits and perception has made driving safer.
The new mantra is that seatbelts save lives.
A similar change now needs to happen in schools.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and the science showing how it is transmitted, the safety of our community begins with the individual.
Truth be told, it always has been, but the importance of self-screening, and self-isolation, if showing symptoms, is now more important than ever.
It would be fair to assume many of us may have woke up in the morning with a cough, a runny nose or sore throat and rationalized that going into work would be OK because it wasn't a big deal. Or that taking some cold medication would help us, or our kids, get through the day.
There are myriad reasons why it was done, but it's a habit we need to break to protect the people close to us, staffing our schools and living in our community.
The last few months have made poignantly clear that staying home when you're unwell is the best way to protect others. While we recognize that many careers come with daily deadlines that are important, the new normal we need to establish, and rigorously follow, is one that puts the emphasis on safety and well-being. LRSD will do everything we can to minimize the risk in our schools, but without your help, it won't be enough.
The government of Canada also recognizes the importance of staying home when unwell and is currently discussing the possibility of giving 10 days of paid sick leave for all workers.
In LRSD, all staff have been instructed to self-assess or use the online screening tool
before coming to work. As per the government of Manitoba recommendations, the following infection prevention measures will also be present in all LRSD schools:
- Individual screening will occur at the start of each day.
- The workplace screening poster will be posted at the entrance(s).
- Anyone (staff, volunteers, and participants) with visible symptoms will not be allowed into the building.
- Appropriate accessibility and accommodations will be in place to ensure that all students can be screened and be meaningfully informed of new procedures.
- If an attendee—including staff, volunteers, and participants—or a member of their household is being investigated by Public Health for COVID-19 infection, they should not attend. Regional Public Health officials will provide direction to attendees.
- If an attendee develops symptoms while at the school, they will be isolated in a predetermined isolation space. Where a separate room is not available, they should be kept at least two metres away from others.
- If the attendee is a child, their parent/guardian will be notified to come and pick them up immediately.
- Maintain physical distance of at least two metres (six feet) to the greatest extent possible, except for brief exchanges and when providing or receiving service.
- We will install signage outlining physical distancing protocols and floor markings where any lines may form, both inside and outside the facility.
- We will prominently display signs and posters highlighting the importance of hand hygiene, physical distancing, and staying home when sick. The following websites have posters that can be printed and used:
- We will encourage hand hygiene and make hand sanitizer available at all building access points.
- We will encourage staff, volunteers, and participants to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at the following times:
- at the start of the day and before going home
- after going to the washroom
- before preparing food
- before eating
- after getting hands dirty
- after wiping noses or handling dirty tissues
- after coughing, sneezing, or blowing nose
- after cleaning tasks (staff)