10 Things to Consider for COVID-Safe Activities

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Allison Romano |
July 26, 2021 |
After-school Programs | For Providers |

Let’s face it—COVID has touched almost every facet of our society, and activity programs are no exception. Whether you are currently providing in-person activities or plan to reopen in the near future, your program must evolve with the ever-changing times. Moving your program forward through the pandemic, you are responsible for the safety of the children you serve as well as the comfort of the parents who are entrusting their children to your care. This may feel overwhelming, but you can lighten the load with thoughtful planning, clear communication, and a readiness to adapt.

Preparation is key. Make sure you develop a detailed plan of action spelling out the practices and procedures for your program. Even if you are currently conducting activities, it’s never too late to stipulate provisions. As you lay out your program’s guidelines regarding COVID, there are a number of safety protocols to consider.

1. Sanitation

Are you intensifying your cleaning efforts? How often do you clean and disinfect? Who is responsible for cleaning? What surfaces, objects, and equipment are clean and sanitized? Will hand sanitizer be available?

2. Hygiene

How are you promoting healthy hygiene practices? Are sinks and soap accessible for handwashing? Do you require frequent handwashing? Do you encourage respiratory etiquette, like covering coughs and sneezes? Do you limit object, supply, and equipment sharing?

3. Activity Capacity

Have you limited the number of students participating at the same time? Is it possible to stagger scheduling?

4. Social Distancing

Have you increased spacing between students? Can you organize students in small groups? Do you limit mixing between groups?

5. Masks

Do you require masks for staff and/or students? If so, is anyone exempt from wearing a mask? Are there times when masks can be removed, such as when outdoors or while eating and drinking? Will masks be available for students who forgot to bring one?

6. Facility

Where do you conduct your activities? Is the facility well-ventilated? Can any of your activities take place outdoors?

7. Staff Training

Do you train your staff and instructors on health and safety protocols?

8. Vaccinations

Are your instructors required to be vaccinated? If not, are there additional safety practices required for unvaccinated employees? Are there different guidelines for older kids who are vaccinated?

9. Illness

Do you encourage anyone who is sick to stay home? Do you screen or monitor symptoms? Do you have a plan if children or teachers get sick? Do you have flexible leave and absence policies in place? Do you have trained substitutes? Do you have a plan to alert local authorities, employees, and parents in the event of infection and exposure?

10. National and State Guidelines

Have you consulted national and state guidelines? For updated guidance for K-12 schools, please see www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html.

Once you have considered the answers to these and any other relevant questions, the next move is to document and distribute your guidelines to parents, students, and staff members. It’s also important to open up two-way communication with parents, allowing them to ask questions and express their concerns. Don’t underestimate the value of feedback. Listening to parents and students will make it easier to wade through the barrage of new information and adapt your practices to suit the unique needs of your students and community.

By defining and communicating clear expectations, you will not only promote compliance and assuage misunderstandings, but you will also ease apprehensions and foster a sense of security for everyone involved in your program. Despite the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic, we are confident that you will forge ahead and continue to provide safe, enriching experiences for your students.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.