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COVID-19 puts new twist on school safety tips

By Staff | Sep 2, 2020

Those of us with school-age children probably believe we have back-to-school safety precautions down pat.

But 2020 has thrown a whole new set of need-to-know tips into the mix.

The Florida Department of Health Lee County released last week its school’s-in safety tips, saying students — who started their new school year here in Lee County on Monday — need to know to:

– Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

– If soap and water are not available, to use an FDA-approved hand sanitizer comprised of at least 60% alcohol. Adults should monitor children while they use the product.

– Maintain a recommended physical distance from other people, including other students.

– Avoid sharing objects with other students, including water bottles, devices, writing instruments and books.

– Monitor how they feel and tell an adult if they are not feeling well.

– Develop daily routines before and after school–for example, things to pack for school in the morning (like hand sanitizer) and things to do when you return home (like washing hands immediately).

The Health Department also advises students and parents alike to be familiar with their school’s plan for to communicate with families when a positive case or exposure to someone with COVID-19 is identified .

The School District of Lee County has such a plan — and some safety recommendations of its own.

The district urges parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on all immunizations and that they be prepared to wear a mask and know the rules of social distancing.

Equally important, the district asks parent to please, please keep children home if they are showing any symptoms that could be associated with the virus known as COVID-19.

Those symptoms includes a fever or even a runny nose, sore throat or cough. Other sign of possible infection include stomach upset, or a lack of smell, taste or appetite.

The district has implemented student spacing measures, mask requirements, installed protective screens where warranted and has screening processes such as temperature checks, in place if warranted.

The district also has developed quarantine and isolations protocols should a student or staff member be exposed, or test positive, for the virus, as well as deep-cleaning policies if there are campus positives.

And yes, all of the standard reminders still do apply.

For those in need of a refresher — including drivers who may be on the road when children are waiting for buses or walking or riding bike to school — the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles again reminds parents and motorists to:

n Be alert while backing up:

– Walk around your vehicle to check for children playing.

– Turn off your radio to better hear your surroundings.

– Keep your foot on the brake until you completely shift into reverse.

– Back out slowly.

– Teach children to never play in, on, around or under vehicles.

– Know your vehicle’s blind spots and look again before backing.

n Pedestrian and bicycle safety:

– While on a bicycle, ride in the same direction as traffic and obey all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.

– Always use a headlight and taillight at night.

– Pedestrians should use the sidewalk if there is one; if not, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.

– Always cross streets where pedestrians are expected, such as corners and crosswalks.

-Be visible. Wear bright and reflective colors on your clothes, shoes and wristbands.

n Bus safety:

– Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and “STOP” arms extended.

– The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop, is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic.

– Motorists should be alert and watch for children, especially near schools, bus stops and school buses and in school parking lots.

– At bus stops, children should wait in a safe place away from the road.

– Children should never walk behind a bus.

New rules, and the standards.

Taken together, they can help us all be better prepared to make this a safer year for everyone involved.

–Neighbor editorial