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Creating a COVID safe environment

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Standard hygiene measures

Schools and early childhood services must maintain COVID safe health and hygiene measures, including:

  • staff, students, children or visitors mu​st not attend facilities if sick
  • regular hand washing and hand sanitising in line with the 5 moments of hand hygiene, particularly before and after eating, and after going to the toilet. Watch the instructional video for guidance
  • covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, or coughing into the elbow, disposing of tissues in the bin and washing hands thoroughly afterwards​​
  • ensuring sufficient soap, water and hand sanitiser stations, as well as tissues, are available​​​​​​
  • increased cleaning of facilities, p​a​​​r​ticularly high-frequency touchpoints such as door handles, light switches, desks and water fountains or bubblers
  • regular cleaning of playground equipment and play materials.
  • display Queensland Health’s stop the spread of germs poster (PDF, 109KB)

Staff should also:​

  • avoid sharing small office spaces
  • adhere to physical distancing in staff rooms and other shared spaces
  • open windows to promote air flow where environmental conditions, such as cold weather, allow.

Additional hygiene measures

Food handling

Food handlers, such as school tuckshop workers, must follow effective hygiene measures at all times.

In early childhood services, food handlers should practise hygiene as per NHMRC guidance in staying healthy: preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services.

Cash handling

It is strongly recommended that payments for services and activities (such as excursions, tuckshops, uniform shops or fundraisers) are made electronically.

Where it is necessary to handle cash, staff must practise good hand hygiene, including washing their hands or using hand sanitiser as soon as possible once the transaction has been completed.

Shared equipment at school

Standard cleaning and hygiene management is required for shared equipment, such as practical workshop resources, Industrial Technology and Design (ITD) resources, musical instruments, computer devices and accessories, as well as sports equipment used within the school, or equipment loaned to students to take home, such as books.​

The loan of equipment other than books must be considered and assessed by each school on a case-by-case basis. It is recommended that these items are loaned on a long-term basis.

Shared mobile phones

In some settings, staff may be required to share items such as mobile phones. Wherever possible, using shared mobiles should be discouraged; however, if it is necessary, staff should be reminded to clean their phones regularly.

Health support procedures for state schools​

All state schools, including special schools, must implement student health plans and ensure student health support procedures are performed as required.

Employees must use gloves at all times when providing student health supports. Other personal protective equipment (PPE) may be required for certain health procedures.

For advice regarding the type of PPE required for a specific health support procedure, including correct use, please consult with your State Schools registered nurse. More information is available on the personal protective equipment for health support procedure factsheet (PDF, 120KB) available in the managing students' health support needs at school procedure​.

Cleaning

State schools have high standards of well-established hygiene protocols and cleaning of their facilities (departmental employees only). Cleaning will prioritise frequently used areas with​ extra attention on high-touch point surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, desks, toilets, taps and sinks. This also includes sick rooms and student or child service areas.

Additional cleaning hours over and above the school cleaning allocation have been in place throughout the pandemic. The increased cleaning hours take account of site or building difficulty factors.

In line with the Queensland Government's Managing COVID-19 in workplaces, deep cleaning is no longer required where a positive case of COVID-19 has been identified.

The two-step precautionary clean – involving a daily normal hygienic clean using Astra (general cleaning) and​ Hercules (amenities), followed by sanitising (Concept), is sufficient for schools and other workplaces to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For more information see the daily hygienic cleaning in state schools fact sheet (PDF, 116KB) (departmental employees only).

​Physical dista​ncing

In line with Queensland Health​ advice, state schools and early childhood services will continue to adhere to physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures in order to provide COVID safe facilities and protect the health, safety and wellbeing of children, staff and the community.

​​Minimise congregation

It is important schools and services consider arrival and departure procedures to minimise groups gathering, including in foyers and classrooms.

Wherever possible, parents should be encouraged to drop off and pick up children in a safe place at entrances instead of entering the premises.

Resources, including posters and sticker templates, are available from the department​ (departmental employees only). Download a keep physical distancing and be COVIDSAFE poster​ from the Australian Government Department of Health’s website and mark floors at desks and counters to remind adults to keep 1.5 metres apart.

Considerations for teaching and learning environments

  • Maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres where practicable including in office spaces and lunch/break rooms.
  • Open windows during the day to promote air flow if weather permits.
  • Consider room setup and activity placement, and limit the number of whole group activities.
  • Limit the number of whole group activities and opt for small group activities.
  • Space out workstations as much as possible.
  • Reduce mixing between different classes and year levels in schools or age and room groups in early childhood services.
  • Implement an indoor/outdoor program whenever possible.
  • Stagger mealtimes.

Additional options for early childhood services

  • Reduce mixing between different age or room groups.
  • Consider small group play, staggered mealtime​s and indoor/outdoor play whenever possible.
  • Rather than having group times where everyone is sitting on the mat, consider using informal opportunities to engage with small groups of children at a time.
  • For younger children, consider rotating and cleaning toys more often.
  • Monitor and avoid children sharing toys that were placed in mouths.
  • A greater range of activities will encourage children and staff to spread out more broadly.
  • Minimise where possible mixing educators and children between rooms.

Ventilation

​Ventilation is one part of a suite of measures that may be used to minimise transmission of COVID-19, along with vaccination, physical distancing, good hygiene, cleaning, wearing of masks and the correct operation and maintenance of air conditioning units.

The department has carefully considered expert advice from health authorities, Safe Work Australia, the World Health Organisation, the Doherty Institute and actions taken by other states and territories to inform this advice to schools.

​Ventilation of learning spaces can be provided naturally (through opening of windows and doors when safe to do so, or relocating learning to outdoor settings) or mechanically, via ventilation and air conditioning systems that introduce fresh air from outside.

The department will continue to review the latest advice and undertake necessary actions in relation to ventilation.

Ventilation assessments

​​The department is supporting schools to assess ventilation in classrooms depending on local conditions and remediate where necessary.​

The department is engaging a mechanical engineer to support ventilation assessments in state schools across Queensland.

The department will continue to work with relevant experts and schools to support the implementation of any additional measures to minimise the transmission of COVID-19 in a school environment.

Schools will have access to CO2 measuring devices and after considering all actions to improve ventilation, if it is deemed necessary, the department will provide portable air purifiers.​

Ventilate with o​utdoor air

Our excellent Queensland weather means that ventilation of learning spaces can often occur naturally by opening windows and doors, or relocating learning to outdoor settings.​

Opening windows, where it is safe to do so and weather permitting, can help to bring in more fresh air to increase natural ventilation.

Increasing fresh air flow by having a number of windows partially open, rather than one window fully open, can help to maximise ​window driven natural ventilation across the room without causing discomfort.

Do not open windows or doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (such as falling or triggering asthma symptoms). Also consider conducting activities, classes or lunches outdoors when circumstances allow.

Air conditioning

Ensure air co​nditioners are maintained, clean​ and functioning properly. Systems should be serviced regularly and filters checked, cleaned and replaced according to manufacturer's instructions.​

Where possible, ensure air conditioner settings draw air from outside and are not set to recirculate indoor air.

The department's $477 million Cooler Cleaner Schools Program will ensure that every classroom, staff room and library in state schools across Queensland will soon benefit from cooler and cleaner air.​

Use of ​fans

Where fresh air is available, ceiling fans can be used to further improve air circulation.

If a fan is not functioning, the fan should be repaired following normal processes.

Other fans, such as pedestal fans, should not be directed to blow air from one person directly past another and should be set to the lowest speed.

Further assistance​

​​The department is supporting schools to assess ventilation in classrooms depending on local conditions and remediate where necessary. This will involve the use of CO2 measuring devices and, where necessary, implement actions to address natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation and physical distancing.

​In circumstances where maximising natural ventilation may not be a suitable option in some teaching spaces, the department will support schools to purchase portable air cleaners or purifiers.

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Last updated 13 June 2022