As schools plan to re-open their doors in the days and weeks ahead, school and local officials are working diligently to implement measures that help minimize exposure to and spread of COVID-19.
According to HealthyChildren.org, schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents. In addition to reading, writing, and math, students learn social and emotional skills, get exercise, and have access to mental health support and other services that cannot be provided with online learning.
For many children and adolescents, schools are safe places to be while parents or guardians are working. For many families, schools are where kids get healthy meals, access to the internet, and other vital services.
While much emphasis has been placed on these issues and concerns, it’s critical that adequate levels of fire and life safety continue to be maintained in the process.
NFPA’s new fact sheet, Building and Life Safety Issues for Safely Reopening Schools, provides fire and life safety considerations for schools as they prepare to re-open, including:
- Building modifications, like door operability;
- Classroom usage;
- Seating arrangements and partitions;
- Egress management; and
- Storage of hand sanitizer and cleaning products.
It’s important to note that many of these issues require review and input from local authorities, as all changes and modifications must be implemented in accordance with local codes and standards.
According to the NFPA, the risk of fires and other emergencies has not disappeared in the midst of the pandemic.
It’s imperative that measures remain in place to adequately protect students, faculty, and staff from these potential threats, even at a time when they’re not necessarily at the forefront of many people’s minds.