OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As many schools are prepping to bring students back for the school year, Westside Community Schools are turning teachers and other staff into students to help them feel more prepared when dealing with COVID-19.
“To help the school systems go through this and provide resources from pediatric experts, we need to anticipate what questions they’re going to have, what questions the parents are going to have, and what are they going to need,” said Megan Connelly, Vice President of Community Pediatrics and Child Health at the Omaha Children’s Hospital.
To help prepare staff at Westside Community Schools, Connelly and Children’s Hospital have put forth a pilot program.
“All of our school nurses, our health aids, and front office administrative are participating in COVID training with Children’s Hospital experts,” said Mike Lucas, Superintendent of Westside Community Schools.
That training also includes teachers, where they first become students.
“What are the symptoms of COVID-19? How can you prevent the spread? What to do if you feel that a child has come to school with symptoms, so we wanted first to provide that type of education,” said Connelly.
Masks are also another big part of the training, starting with the basics.
“How to encourage the kids to wear masks, how to wear them correctly, the hygiene-related to masks because we need those masks to continually be washed appropriately,” said Connelly.
Explaining to students, both young and old, why masks are necessary is critical to this program, as that help comes in the form of digital videos. The videos include a doctor discussing how to properly wear a mask and why students should do so among other things.
Connelly says it’s inevitable that kids will come to school with some symptoms, so the response is crucial. But a program like this where multiple organizations work together is key to staying ahead.
“Partnerships is the only way that we’re going to be able to get through this pandemic,” said Connelly.
The program is voluntary and parents’ permission is needed. If they give permission, once staff identifies a potentially sick student, they can go through a Children’s Hospital helpline then possibly a telehealth appointment afterward to determine the proper action.
Westside Community Schools plan to start their school year on August 18th.