Implementation of preventive measures to prevent COVID-19: a national study of English primary schools in summer 2020

N Sundaram, C Bonell, S Ladhani, SM Langan, F Baawuah, I Okike, S Ahmad, J Beckmann, J Garstang, BE Brent, AJ Brent, Z Amin-Chowdhury, F Aiano, J Hargreaves

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Abstract

We examined the feasibility of implementing preventive measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission across 105 English primary schools in summer 2020 via a survey and interviews with headteachers. High rates of implementation of most recommended measures were noted with the exception of requiring 2 m distance for students, fitting hand sanitizers in classrooms and introducing one-way systems in school corridors. Measures such as regular handwashing and stopping assemblies were considered easy to implement. Majorly challenging measures included distancing between individuals (for students: 51%, N = 99; for staff: 34%; N = 98; for parents: 26%, N = 100), spacing out desks (34%, N = 99), keeping same staff assigned to each student group (33%, N = 97) and staggering break times (25%, N = 99). Rapid implementation was facilitated by staff commitment and communication among stakeholders, but hampered by limitations with guidance received, physical environments, resources, parental adherence and balancing preventive measures with learning. Difficulties with distancing for younger children suggest that smaller bubbles with fewer distancing requirements within these may be a policy option. Schools require further financial, human resource and other support for effective implementation of preventive measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272–285
JournalHealth Education Research
Volume36
Issue number3
Early online date16 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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