Since children who are under 16 years cannot be vaccinated against COVID, there is a need to ensure that as they get back to school for the year 2021-2022, the school environment will be conducive to learning with minimal spread of COVID among the students. This project develops an optimized model that will help schools make difficult decisions on what policies to implement; and what changes they will need to make.
The suggested policies and changes that schools need to implement include wearing face masks among the students, maintaining social distance in the classrooms and hallways, educating staff on the prevention of COVID, relocating key workspaces to most ventilated areas, installing transparent shields or barriers where needed, buying more buses to allow for distancing, ensuring that windows are always open for good ventilation and installing fans. Schools should embrace outdoor activities, and where possible, install no-touch water fountains. Schools should also consider investing in technology so as to facilitate remote learning where necessary.
The constraining factors that go into this model include budget and time. Obtaining some threshold for reducing the risk of exposure in the event of a breakout is also a constraint. The schools that need to adopt this model should have a school population of more than 2000 students and prepare to set aside a budget of $50,000 in order to implement the mentioned changes that help in reducing exposure.