Follow guidelines of local authorities for physical distancing and make it easy for learners and staff to follow them. Options comprise: Reducing class size by assigning shifts, creating space between desks, staggering the beginning and end of school days and break times, attaching marks with sufficient physical spacing on the floor where waiting lines may form, such as in front of toilets or handwashing stations.

Parents and teachers should recognize symptoms of COVID-19 and isolate suspected cases immediately before referral to an appropriate health facility. Sick children, teachers or staff should not come to school. Documentation, information of parents and authorities and follow-up action according to local recommendations should be followed.


Ensuring proper hand hygiene for everyone in school is important. In addition to existing handwashing facilities, additional handwashing stations with water and soap can be set up at the school entrance so that students, staff and visitors are able to wash their hands before entering the school. Make sure that all other existing handwashing facilities are functional and have soap and water. When handwashing with water and soap is not possible, use a recommended hand sanitiser.



How do you know that the surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom have been disinfected?

Increasing general hygiene levels helps to make the entire school environment safer for everyone. Regular cleaning and disinfecting according to local recommendations is important, using bleach dilutions for disinfection as recommended. This includes handwashing facilities, toilets and washrooms, but also surfaces that are frequently touched such as railings, tables, sports equipment, door and window handles, toys, teaching and learning aids etc. Trash bins in classrooms, washrooms and across the school grounds should be emptied regularly.


Enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices require more time and resources. Establish checklists for all procedures to ensure that the required tasks are performed according to guidelines and at the required intervals. Check water supply and regular availability, if needed increase water storage capacity. Calculate supply needs for soap, hand sanitiser, bleach, cleaning utensils (buckets, brooms, sponges) as well as protective equipment like face masks and gloves for cleaners. Estimate the additional time necessary for new and expanded cleaning procedures and plan for adequate staffing. Involve the entire school community in the planning process and engage them as appropriate in the new cleaning routines. Assigning specific roles to teachers, staff, students or community members helps to ensure compliance with routines, including those for physical distancing. Standard procedures should also address situations when students, teachers or staff become unwell.


Establishing a culture of hygiene in schools serves as a model for communities and encourages wider hygiene behaviour change. Parents, teachers, staff and parents must lead by example and by responsible behaviour. Repeated information sessions and practical training enhances everyone’s skills to adapt to the new situation and to use their respective roles in bringing the new hygiene culture to life.


Protect yourself and others by washing hands regularly with water and soap, avoid touching your face, follow proper coughing/sneezing etiquette and, where recommended, wear a face mask and keep the required distance to others. Speak up against stigma, stick to facts, help others cope with stress and be considerate in following local recommendations to protect everyone.

Action List inspired and guided by:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Re-opening guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools and homes (15 May 2020) Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ community/reopen-guidance.html.

  • Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2020). Interim guidance for COVID-19 prevention and control in schools (March 2020) Available at: https://data2.unhcr. org/en/documents/details/74755. New York/Geneva: UNICEF/WHO/IFRC.

  • WASH in Schools (2020). Ten immediate WASH in Schools (WinS) actions for school heads to manage the response to COVID-19. Available at: https://www.susana.org/ en/knowledge-hub/resources-and-publications/library/details/3855. Eschborn/ Bonn: WASH in Schools Network, German Development Cooperation GIZ.

  • World Health Organization (2020). Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19: interim guidance, 15 May 2020. World Health Organization. Available at: https:// apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/332096. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.