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COVID-19: Safety & IT Measures Ontario Schools Can Take To Continue Education

Safety & IT Solutions Can Prevent Coronavirus Disruption

Although public schools are not prepared for total online learning. There are managed IT solutions that are available to get through the COVID-19 emergency in Canada.  

It wasn’t long after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic that Ontario officials decided to shutter public schools for an additional two weeks following the traditional March break. The move supports growing policies to limit the contagion’s spread through human contact. And although reports indicate the virus does not necessarily put school-aged children at the heightened risk of our valued elders and those with pre-existing conditions, containment remains critical.

“We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s statement asserts.

The Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, ranks among the easiest transmittable infectious disease in recent memory. According to health agencies and news reports, COVID-19 can be transmitted via person-to-person contact, remain airborne for up to three hours, and may contaminate surfaces and inanimate objects for up to three days. Perhaps the most significant challenge community members should be aware of is that infected parties may show no symptoms for weeks.

The Ontario government’s decision to extend school closures is certainly warranted. However, parents and school administrators now must implement strategies to defend against the virus and continue educating Canada’s children.

COVID-19 Ontario Schools

What Ontario Schools Can Do To Sanitize Facilities

According to health resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eliminating the coronavirus does not require professional sanitization measures. Before pupils return to their desks and playgrounds, ordinary household cleaners may prove effective. In terms of school surface areas, keyboards, and other routinely used items, these are considered effective methods that can be employed at school and home.

  • Diluted Bleach: Mix 5 tablespoons of bleach with one gallon of water. This mix can be used with moist cloths or sprays to sanitize surfaces.
  • Alcohol Solutions: To be effective, hand sanitizers should contain 60 percent, and other solutions should contain 70 percent alcohol.

The CDC published a detailed COVID-19 Recommendations for Cleaning and Disinfection response that can be accessed online. While such guidelines may prove invaluable in combating the sometimes deadly virus, public school would be wise to plan for an extended hiatus. Although public-school leaders have modestly begun to tap into virtual education, managed IT professionals have short- and long-term solutions.

Ontario Schools May Require Remote IT Solutions

There have been some media reports that school systems are too ill-prepared to manage the growing COVID-19 crisis.

“That is definitely a challenge at the (Toronto District School Board) and school boards right across the province, if not country,” spokesperson Ryan Bird reportedly said. “The fact is, with 247,000 (students in Toronto), we can’t flip a switch. It comes down to access to technology. And something this widespread is not something that can be easily planned for.”

“Online learning” has emerged as a catch-phrase in education circles. What that boils down to on the tech side is enhanced IT that enhances remote access and cybersecurity via the Cloud, among other resources.

“On the scale that would be required to offer consistency in terms of student learning and achievement over the next few months, we might have sufficient capacity to do it for a few days or a week,” education consultant Paul W. Bennett reportedly said. “But we would not have the capacity, and we have never really developed the capacity to do it for longer than short periods.”

While school officials are not generally IT experts, education decision-makers would be wise to reach out to the professionals for a coronavirus consultation promptly. That’s largely because there are IT solutions available that can bridge the immediate gap, as well as long-term fixes.

Although time is of the essence, most parents have desktops, laptops, and viable devices at home that can tap into virtual education sites. School decision-makers have an opportunity to expand Cloud and remote access to pupils. Many parents already have established login and password permissions to review documents and check on assignments. The next steps may be expanding Cloud privileges and permissions to interact with teachers about homework.

The tools for online learning already exist. Perhaps that COVID-19 outbreak is teaching us all a lesson that IT solutions can get us through this crisis and avoid future disruption.