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Feb 11
School environmental assessments in Surrey provide valuable health & safety insights

Comprehensive environmental assessments done at three different Surrey schools have highlighted common themes and practices that can support our schools in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

A report on the environmental assessments was presented to Surrey Board of Education trustees by Supt. Jordan Tinney at Wednesday's public board meeting.

To date, assessments have been completed at École Panorama Ridge Secondary, Cambridge Elementary and Newton Elementary.

Done in collaboration with Fraser Health, as well as district and school-based health and safety teams, the assessments included physical site visits, interviews with staff members and reviews of school procedures and protocols.

In addition to these three school assessments, subject-specific teams have also been brought together to review practices where there have been outbreaks or high numbers of cases. Most recently, such reviews were done for physical education (PE), music and band programs.

Common themes that emerged include:

  • The importance of students and staff completing daily health checks before attending school;
  • Configuring classrooms to maximize physical distancing in the available space, not having students sit face-to-face and limiting contact and close proximity, particularly during physical exercise;
  • Wearing masks, maintaining distance and not congregating in common areas;
  • Limiting numbers in staff rooms/washrooms, not sharing utensils/dishes, cleaning shared appliances after use, maintaining physical distance from colleagues.
  • Students not sharing supplies and cleaning equipment that is shared or rotated (like musical instruments or PE equipment;
  • Limiting visitors to schools as much as possible & clearly communicating sign-in procedures;
  • The importance of students remaining in their cohorts, including before and after school and during breaks;
  • Carefully considering cleaning schedules so that students are not forced to be in close proximity while cleaning is done.

"We are continually learning and adapting through our experiences with this pandemic," said Tinney.  "It's important that we're transparent during these processes – sharing what we've learned and how our protocols are evolving – so that best practices and expectations are clear and we can protect one another and stay healthy."

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