GEMS Education’s network of schools is meticulously preparing for the eventual return of students, parents and staff, implementing a variety of robust health and safety measures to guarantee compliance with the highest international hygiene, cleaning and disinfection standards.
All GEMS schools are working with and drawing on the specialist expertise of a range of globally accredited health and safety service providers, covering everything from food handling and deep cleaning, to school transportation and staff accommodation. All staff involved in cleaning and sanitisation are required to wear full personal protective equipment and have received extensive health and safety training that meets global standards as well as local standards set by government bodies such as Dubai Health Authority.
Paul Slater, Vice President – Operations and Health, Safety and Environment at GEMS Education, said: “The safety of our students, parents, teachers and staff is of utmost importance and remains our top priority. Our preparations for reopening schools are already well underway. We have been meticulously reviewing practices across Europe and Asia to ensure we apply only the best global standards. We have a team of dedicated health and safety professionals, both centrally and at a school level, who are working tirelessly to ensure we continue to follow the best, most up to date health and safety standards.
“We have also implemented additional layers of health and safety measures to ensure the well-being and protection of all our students, teachers, staff and parents. These enhance our existing health and safety management system that is ISO 45001 certified, which is regarded as the global standard for health and safety management systems. In addition, we have a number of compliance checks in place as part of our ISO 45001 certification programme, which includes ongoing annual third-party audits.”
In the run up to school reopening, subject to regulatory guidelines and directives, all GEMS Education schools are undergoing regular deep cleaning and disinfection using hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectants that are commonly used in healthcare facilities. These products are environmentally safe and proven effective against coronavirus strains including SARS and MERS. Following disinfection, a special antimicrobial product is being applied that can provide surface protection for up to four weeks.
Additional measures include repeated fumigation of all air conditioning vents, and GEMS Education’s Health and Safety Team is currently reviewing additional measures to enhance the safety of people coming into school, including the potential use of sanitisation tunnels at main entrances as well as IP thermal cameras for enhanced temperature checking. In addition, dedicated health and safety professionals have been reviewing policies and procedures, to ensure that social distancing and safety guidelines are implemented and followed.
GEMS Education is applying global health, safety, and hygiene standards as part of its annual internal audits. The group has appointed a dedicated professional task force responsible solely for managing how the schools will be returning to operational safely and to ensure that the best health standards are being implemented, based on prior research and knowledge from regions where schools have reopened.