(P) Health and safety in a time of pandemic
A distant whirring and glow can be seen within the halls of the Cambridge School of Bucharest campus. As the noise grows louder and the glow more intense, the striking figure of Gary, the school’s ultra-violet robot, can be seen. Patrolling the school nightly to make sure the entire campus is safe, clean, and ready for the day to follow.
Education has certainly been changed forever by the pandemic, but the moral and ethical duty to keep students safe and secure will always be the most important concern any school has.
COVID-19 forced everyone to re-evaluate their practices, but Cambridge School of Bucharest (CSB) rose to the challenge quickly and efficiently, as the safety of their students underpins everything they do.
CSB is an accredited British Overseas School (BSO), meaning that they are held to the highest standards of health and safety, child protection, assessing, and addressing risks to their community.
However, even for a school that had strong systems already in place, COVID-19 brought its own challenges, and new and innovative practices had to be introduced.
Now located in their new Pipera campus, CSB began school year with a rigorous health and safety and child protection training programme with every member of staff. This meant that teachers and students would be fully aware of how to stay safe whilst on campus.
The school invested heavily in new technology that would allow all members of the school community to know they were safe in lessons, during break times, and while traveling to and from school.
Students were met each morning by their dedicated team of nurses and their Heads of School to direct students to the temperature scanners located at each entrance that give instant feedback and peace of mind.
“We care about our students’ wellbeing, and it was important to us that students not only felt secure, but that parents knew their children were safe. That is why all members of our community received their own personal CSB safety kits that included a personal UV wand, hand sanitizer, gloves, and a hygiene guide,” said Heath Renfroe, Deputy School Director. “Everyone really appreciated the kit and our students were using them daily whilst they were on campus.”
The real star of the show, however, is the UV Robot, Gary, who visits every classroom, all three science labs, the art and design and technology rooms, and IT labs each evening. “Gary has become part of the family,” says Elena Tenea, Front Office Coordinator, “and even though the students have not been in school, the robot makes its journey every night as we want to be ready for our students to come back as soon as it is allowed.”
Now that the much-anticipated vaccine is here, the administration of CSB has been working closely with local health officials in vaccinating CSB teaching staff, administrative staff, supervisors, custodians, drivers, and all other support staff. As staff queued up for the vaccine, it was heartening to hear staff discuss how much they missed CSB students and how ready they were to have them back on campus.
As well as the physical safety of students and staff, making sure students are using technology safely is now more important than ever. “CSB was honoured to become the first, and only, National Online Safety certified school in Romania. To achieve this award all of our staff were trained, and every parent/guardian was given access to an online platform that provides webinars, advice, and weekly guides to make sure the entire community is always up to date with any technological advancements, and any challenges they may bring with them,” said Matthew Wemyss, Head of Computer Science.
Julia Suroz, CSB’s Lead Designated Child Protection Officer, was also pleasantly surprised when the school received an award from the prestigious Safeguarding Alliance in recognition for the exceptional safeguarding initiative they have taken during COVID-19. “This award was amazing news, as a member of our own school community nominated us for it. It’s always wonderful to hear that the community we serve is happy, and that they see us doing our best to keep their children safe and active in their educations.”
“The pandemic has been a global challenge, but as a community, there is nothing we cannot overcome,” says Rita Hayek Maalouf, School Director. “Everything we do for our students is because we care: We care about their education, their health, and their happiness. We cannot wait to open our doors again to our students, when they will be welcomed by our highly trained, and award winning, team.”
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