The current situation around the new Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has everyone on high alert. Constant updates and developments can be overwhelming as you try to determine what impact this situation will have on your organization. We know that you always prioritize the safety of your participants, and now the focus is on making sure that they can continue to enjoy your programs safely as the situation unfolds. To help with this, we’ve gathered information and recommendations below. Additionally, here’s ePACT’s Response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Educate staff and families on the virus
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) [Source: CDC Fact Sheet].
COVID-19 is caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus and the most common symptoms are:
- Dry cough
Some patients may also have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel sick. 1 in 6 people who test positive for COVID-19 become seriously ill [Source: World Health Organization, Frequently Asked Questions].
Review, update, and implement your emergency plans
The most important thing your organization can do is plan and prepare, much like you would for any other widespread disaster or emergency, and adjust for this specific scenario.
COVID-19 is spread by person-to-person contact, either between those who are in close contact (within about 6 feet of one another) and/or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (these can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people or possibly be inhaled) [Source: CDC, COVID-19 Transmission].
Your main priority will be to update your plans to include actions that reduce the spread of infectious disease among your staff and participants. Some options include:
- Temporary suspension of large public gatherings
- Postponement of programs and activities if possible
- Post instructions about hand-cleaning and avoiding touching your face around facilities so that it’s top of mind
- If possible, allow staff to work remotely
With those potential scenarios in mind, you should have a clear communication plan for your staff and families so that you can answer their questions and share information quickly and efficiently, whether you use email, phone calls, social media, or your website.
Share preventive actions for staff and families
It might sound obvious but the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus in the first place. Here are the key preventative actions that you can take and be sure to share them with families too! [Source: Stop the Spread of Germs, Downloadable Resource, CDC].
- Avoid close contact with people (keep at least 6 feet from them).
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a disposable tissue and throw it in the garbage right away (if you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into a bent elbow, not your hand).
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (while masks won’t prevent the stop of the disease, they can prevent you from touching your face).
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (e.g. computer keyboards, phones, desks, light switches) before and after use.
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick, except to seek medical care.
- Wash your hands often (and properly) with soap and water.
Establish processes for those who get sick onsite
Given that this disease spreads by person-to-person contact, it’s important to ensure that you have a clear, efficient process for anyone who gets sick while at your facilities, whether it’s a staff member or a participant.
- Keep sick individuals separate from everyone else until they can leave or are picked up.
- Send sick individuals home as soon as possible. This is the most significant reason for your staff to have the most up-to-date contact information for parents, guardians, or authorized pickups to ensure that children are picked up quickly and by the right person.
- Let families and staff know about your processes and what to expect if illness occurs within your facilities.
Clean and disinfect your facilities regularly
Encouraging staff to disinfect their commonly used surfaces is a great habit for them to get into as this helps stop the spread of viruses in general. However, there are additional ways that you can keep things clean and sanitized as an organization:
- Install hand sanitizing stations throughout your facilities and let families and staff know that they’re available (they can also let you know if they need refilling too!).
- Ensure you have ample supplies of disinfectants for janitorial staff to use in their daily cleaning.
- Increase routine checks of bathroom areas to replenish soap and towel products regularly so that they’re always available for use.
The Center for Disease Control has stated the importance of routine environmental cleaning for frequently touched surfaces in the workplace (workstations, countertops, doorknobs, light switches etc.)
How ePACT can help
ePACT helps organizations collect, manage, and store critical information from families attending their programs as well as their own staff. In terms of a widespread crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, here are a few ways that ePACT can support your processes for both families and staff:
- Collect current and accurate health information, and access it on the go with the ePACT Admin App.
- Families and staff use their Private Personal Emergency Record™ (PPER) to provide updates in real-time so you always have the right information when you need it the most.
- Ask travel-related questions as part of your existing form (any fees waived for changes).
- Share information quickly and efficiently through ePACT’s robust communication tools, which include email, voice, and text messaging (staff can use two-way messaging to respond to specific questions or needs your organization might have).
If you’d like to see how ePACT works, schedule a free demo with our team today:
- PDF: What You Need To Know About Coronavirus (Center for Disease Control)
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak (World Health Organization)
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public (World Health Organization)
- How coronavirus spreads (Center for Disease Control)
- Q&A on coronaviruses (World Health Organization)
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers (Centers for Disease Control)
- Video: Exactly How To Wash Your Hands (Health.com, Centers for Disease Control)
- NRPA Resources & Response to COVID-19 (National Recreation & Park Association)
- Coronavirus: What Impact Will COVID-19 Have On Parks & Recreation? (National Recreation & Park Association – Open Space Blog)
- PDF: Stop the Spread of Germs (Center for Disease Control)
- COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (iAuditor)
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