Medi snips | Sunday Observer

Medi snips

13 September, 2020

Health Ministry guidelines to prevent Covid-19 in schools

Director/ Environmental and Occupation Health and Safety

With the reopening of schools after several months of closure , concerns have been raised on whether the school environment is safe for students. The Sunday Observer spoke to Director, Environmental and Occupation Health and Safety, Dr Thilak Siriwardana .

Asked what steps have been taken to ensure a safe disease-free environment for the students in the country, considering that some schools had been used as polling stations at the recent parliamentary elections, he said the Ministry of Health had provided guidelines to the Ministry of Education to control and prevent Covid-19. “Grassroots level public health workers work hand in hand with schools to have these guidelines implemented in the schools. In addition all schools and other buildings were sanitised immediately after the election,” he said.

Asked if the classrooms were sterile and what precautions had been taken to protect the students from exposure to the Covid-19 infection, he said , “ The school authorities should follow the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the instructions by the Education Ministry. Parents also have to play an active role to protect students from Covid-19 as students who have been protected from the virus in their homes are now with other children who may carry the infection without their knowledge.”

Asked about school canteens he said, “Any food premises in the country should be according to the regulations issued under the Food Act No 26 of 1980 and the Covid-19 guidelines issued on restaurants and food premises recently. They are applied to school canteens too.”” To our question whether there was a School Canteen Policy, he answered in the negative saying that there was no school canteen policy in Sri Lanka other than a few circulars issued by the educational authorities about the school canteens.

We asked him if there were precautions when serving and preparing food for students, he said, that the instructions were given to public Health Inspectors on this and general instructions to prevent Covid-19 can be practised by the parents to promote homemade food.

Who oversees adherence to the new health regulations laid down by the Ministry of Health, we asked?

He said” We have about 1,800 Public Health Inspectors supervised by the Medical Officers of Health to ensure the implementation of these regulations.”

On the advisability of re-commencement of sports activities by schoolchildren he said “Sports played using rackets and which don’t have to be in close physical contact could be allowed adding that the students should be taught on how to prevent themselves from the spread of Covid-19 during sports.