Incident Management and Emergency Readiness
Last Updated on 14 January 2021
Protocols for Contact Tracing and Handling COVID-19 Positive and Suspected Cases
In case a student, teacher or member of the school staff reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in contact with a positive case or suspected to be infected by the virus, the school COVID-19 response team must immediately follow the relevant protocols included in the ‘Guide for Private Schools Covid-19 Response Teams’ shared by ADEK’s COVID-19 Incident Management Team.
Ensure that all school staff /response team members are well aware of the protocols outlined in the ‘Guide for Private Schools Covid-19 Response Teams’ and are clear on the actions required to handle any positive or suspected case (via a clear checklist, process charts, etc.)
Setting Up a Response Team with Defined Roles in the School
A “Team Leader”, ideally the Principal or Vice Principal.
A “First Responder”, who must be a trained medical professional or healthcare provider, ideally the school nurse, and must be present in the school premises during the entire school day to offer emergency care to students handle COVID-19 related incidents, and refer them appropriately if needed.
A “Facilities Supervisor” responsible for the hygiene management/sanitization of the school and responsible for members/staff/student movements and utilization of facilities in the school premises.
A “Contact Tracing Supervisor”, responsible for reviewing staff and student attendance records in case a student or member of staff reports testing positive for COVID-19. This person will identify and record the group of people who may have come in contact with the infected person. This role must be supported by trained members for contact tracing.
A “COVID-10 Focal Person”, responsible for communicating with staff, parents and ADEK in the case of any COVID-related incident at school.
Establishing a Quarantine Space within the School Premises
A quarantine room in or near the school clinic should be established and equipped in accordance with the approved specifications of suspected cases of staff or students. If the quarantine room is outside the clinic, then care must be taken when transferring a suspected case from the clinic to the room (ensure social distancing and mask-wearing).
A specialized nurse in the school clinic to take the necessary preventive measures for suspected cases and to inform the concerned authorities.
The space must be adequately ventilated and have its own separate bathroom with toilet and hand washing facilities.
If the space is to be used by multiple people, there should be at least 1 bed available and social distancing of at least 2m should be maintained.
If the school enrolls male and female students in Cycles 2 and 3, gender segregated spaces should be provided in the form of two quarantine rooms, each with their own ensuite bathroom.
Essential supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including surgical masks, gloves, single-use long-sleeved aprons or gowns and face shields must be present in the quarantine room. N95 masks should be available for the school nurse when handling suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Cleaning supplies such as a hypochlorite-based surface disinfectant, rubber gloves and PPE for cleaning staff must be available in the quarantine room.
A trained medical professional must always be available in/near this quarantine room when a patient is admitted.
The medical professional must always maintain a distance of 2m from the suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient. If this is not possible, the medical professional must wear PPE before approaching the patient.
Schools are not allowed to manage or administer any medicines for symptomatic relief of COVID-19 symptoms without parental consent unless deemed lifesaving or essential. If a school carries medicines and/or equipment for dealing with medical emergencies, it must ensure consent of the student’s parent/guardian and administer any treatment only through a trained medical professional at their own risk. The administration of paracetamol is allowed if parents will take a while to arrive to reduce fever. If a student is short of breath, basic low flow oxygen can be administered until he/she is moved to hospital.
Under no circumstance should schools try to manage any COVID-19 cases on their own. In case a patient’s condition deteriorates and emergency services are required, the medical professional must follow existing procedures for dealing with medical emergencies.
The student with an onset of COVID-19 symptoms should be moved to the quarantine room and picked up by a guardian as soon as possible. In the case of a staff member, they should follow the medical professional’s recommendations.
Guidance on Protocols for Managing a COVID-19 Related Incident at School
In this section, a “COVID-19 related incident” refers to a student or staff having sudden onset of symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, cough or sore throat with or without fever.
In case a COVID-19 related incident occurs where a student is experiencing symptoms, their teacher must immediately inform the Team Leader, and provide the student with a surgical mask if he/she is able to tolerate wearing the mask.
The Team Leader must arrange for the First Responder to collect the student from their classroom and move them to the quarantine room while keeping a distance of 2m from them, and ensuring that the student avoids touching high-contact surfaces such as railings, doors, etc.
The Team Leader must also instruct the Facilities Supervisor to immediately have the classroom cleaned and disinfected, especially the affected student’s desk and belongings.
The Team Leader must also inform the COVID-19 Focal Person, who will call the student’s parent/legal guardian to have them picked up immediately to be taken home/to a hospital.
The criteria for returning to school includes clinical improvement, completion of the required isolation period and two consecutive negative results.
Guidance for School Clinic Staff
Schools shall have School Clinics on the premises as per Policy 64 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
Schools shall employ a full-time school nurse who holds a valid Department of Health (DoH) healthcare professional license for registered school nurses.
Clinic staff shall verify that all furniture, PPE (for clinic staff but also for students/staff developing symptoms while on school premises), and other equipment required by the healthcare authorities are available and stocked, and that any other requirements regarding the clinic’s physical space have been met.
The school clinic should have an updated list of all staff and students who have high-risk medical conditions.
The school nurse should report confirmed COVID-19 cases (students/teachers/staff with positive COVID-19 PCR result) through the ADEK COVID-19 reporting form and the Infectious Diseases Notification (IDN) system.
Clinic staff shall work with the COVID-19 Taskforce to ensure all staff and students are aware of the availability of their services, the location of the clinic, as well as COVID-19 related protocols.
All clinic staff should have full awareness of the needs of Students of Determination. These include any communication, sensory, physical, emotional or behavioral needs. These needs should also be clearly communicated through a Student Profile to any health professionals involved in an emergency.
Specific COVID-19 training for school clinic staff will be communicated at a later time in conjunction with relevant authorities.
As per the laws and regulations of civil defense, dedicated exit routes must be maintained clear at all times to permit prompt evacuation. They must be unobstructed and only used in case of fire or emergency.
Any social distancing arrangement should take that into account and should allow pupils to evacuate safely.
Any adaptations to regular emergency drills (i.e. fire, earthquake, evacuation, etc.) will be communicated to schools at a later time in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Civil Defense.