Containment/management of COVID-19 for schools and school communities
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) virus, and we are learning more about it every day. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. At this point, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. Stopping transmission (spread) of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy.
Schools, working together with local health departments, have an important role in slowing the spread of diseases to help ensure learners have safe and healthy learning environments.
To prepare for possible community transmission of COVID-19, the most important thing for schools to do now is plan and prepare. School plans should be designed to minimise disruption to teaching and learning and protect learners and staff from social stigma and discrimination. Plans can build on everyday practices (e.g. encouraging hand hygiene, monitoring absenteeism and communicating routinely).
As the global outbreak evolves, schools should prepare for the possibility of community-level outbreaks as well as possible recommendations from health officials for learners, staff or whole classes or grades to be quarantined at home. School dismissal could be recommended in certain circumstances. Decisions about appropriate public health interventions should always be made in discussion with public health officials who have access to all the relevant information.
This guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Guidance will be updated as new information emerges. Please check the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) website (nicd) for updated guidance.