5 Common Misconceptions About Managing the Spread of Viruses in School

The COVID-19 has a complementary pandemic that isn’t a bodily disease: it’s the spread of misinformation and disinformation. A joint statement issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations dubs this spread of inaccurate lies as an “infodemic.” They state, “At the same time, the technology we rely on to keep connected and informed is enabling and amplifying an infodemic that continues to undermine the global response and jeopardizes measures to control the pandemic.” Just as misleading information can hamper the pandemic’s containment, it can also plague leaders’ ability to manage the spread of viruses in school. Let’s discuss common misconceptions about reopening campuses during the pandemic.

Misconception #1: Children are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than adults.

Though children typically have milder COVID-19 symptoms than adults, this doesn’t mean that they’re less likely to spread the virus to others. In fact, they are just as infectious as those with more intense symptoms. As such, they can catch the virus at school and transmit it to adults in their homes and communities.

Misconception #2: If community spread is limited, schools should remain closed.

There is a high correlation between community spread and COVID-19 in schools. The less community spread there is in an area, the less likely that students will either transmit or contract the virus in schools. This is because students are less likely to be infected in their homes or community and then less likely to transmit the disease to others.

Conversely, if community spread in an area is high, schools should consider closing, even if they haven’t had any reported cases of COVID-19 on their campuses. High community spread results in a high likelihood of on-campus transmission.

Misconception #3: To manage the spread of viruses in school, contact tracing is impossible with school-age children because they won’t remember where they’ve gone.

Contact tracing involves a trained team asking individuals infected with COVID-19 about where they’ve been during the infection period. The team then contacts those with whom the infected person has been near, especially for long periods.

Of course, school-aged children are less likely to remember where they’ve gone throughout the day. This doesn’t mean that contact tracing is impossible with school-aged children, however. You just need to implement technology that simplifies location tracking.

ScholarChip can help. The first step is installing Secure Door Access card readers on your building’s outside doors and classrooms. In order to unlock these doors, students, faculty, and staff need to use ScholarChip’s One Card, an individualized card that only opens doors at specific times. For instance, if a student is taking biology in a certain classroom, their One Card will only unlock that room during their class time.

With these tools in place, contact tracing is digitized and much more accurate. Rather than relying on students’ memories, you can know for sure what students were in a space with an infected student for at a specific time. Then, you can contact these students’ guardians, ensuring that these possibly infected students will quarantine at home. Technology can help you manage the spread of viruses in school.

Misconception #4: Class sizes are not a factor in COVID-19 transmission to manage the spread of viruses in school.

Class sizes are one of the most significant factors in increased transmission of COVID-19 in schools. Packed classrooms, especially in spaces with poor ventilation, has been proven to increase the infectiousness of the disease. The best way to prevent infection is to ensure that students stay six feet apart from faculty and their classmates. One way to make sure this happens is by limiting class sizes.

You can limit class sizes by staggering attendance. Instead of having students stay on campus all day, students only attend classes part of the day.

If this seems daunting to you, know that you can use the Secure Door Access and One Card to also ensure that students remain in their assigned classrooms at appropriate times. With this technology, students will only be able to come onto campus when they’re supposed to be there, eliminating attendance headaches that may otherwise arise.

Misconception #5: Students will fall behind if they’re quarantined by COVID-19 restrictions.

Even if students have to miss school, teachers can still ensure that they’re making one-on-one connections with them. One of the best ways to ensure that students are staying on track is through ScholarChip’s Alternative Behavior Education (ABE).

If a student is struggling to stay on task or with other unproductive behaviors while away from the physical environment, teachers and parents can assign the student games and tasks that will encourage them to alter their behavior. What’s more, teachers across subjects and years can track suggestions from other educators.

Together, these suggestions will make students more productive and motivated, no matter where they’re learning.

The infodemic is the second layer of the COVID-19 pandemic. Misinformation that is hindering the prevention of the disease is running rampant around the world. However, if you investigate further, you’ll be able to tell the facts from fiction. Creating a safe, welcoming environment for you to manage the spread of viruses in school is possible with the right tools.

The ScholarChip team is dedicated to helping school leaders maximize the safety and well-being of students and the entire school community.

Now sure what you should do to be able to identify and manage the spread of a viral outbreak in your school or school district? Feel free to chat with one of our school crisis communication specialists today!