YONKERS, NY — May 23, 2020 — Taiwan has remained very vigilant about the pandemic since early January. Since I was born and raised in Taiwan, I managed to get inside information from my friends and family who work or taught from the earliest days the pandemic became known in Taiwan, as well as from reading the news via the Internet. I hope the information I gathered will be helpful when Yonkers schools are ready to re-open.
The Brief Taiwan Timeline:
January 21: First confirmed case from a traveler visiting from WuHan, China
February 2: Government extended Chinese New Year vacation to February 25th applicable to grades 1-12; semester ending on July 14.
February 25: All schools grade 1-12 reopen
March 2: All colleges reopen
March 15: One high school student became a confirmed case, who had vacationed in Greece, had not self-quarantined for the recognized appropriate standard of 14 days before returning to school.
March 24: The firs college began implementing online classes.
March 25: One foreign, post doctoral research fellow, became a confirmed case, who had contacted the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) from a previously confirmed case. The university that the student attended began engaging in online classes forthwith.
May 10: Total confirmed case: 440 (55 community spread, 349 from those who traveled abroad, and 36 from those serving on a military ship) with 7 who died,and 366 who recovered.
The following link is a 7 minutes PBS report about some efforts that Taiwan applied to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/taiwans-aggressive-efforts-are-paying-off-in-fight-against-covid-19
School closing policy:
- One student confirmed with COVID-19, the whole class quarantined for 14 days; school sanitized
- Two students from the same school confirmed with COVID-19; the entire school quarantined for 14 days; school sanitized
Student attending school policy:
- Those students who had travelled abroad, upon their return were to self quarantine for 14 days and were permitted 14 days legal quarantine absences.
- Students/staff should stay home if they feel sick (fever, breathing difficulty, tired/lethargic, headache, sore throat, cough, running nose, suffering chills).
- Students/staff should take temperature twice daily.
- Temperature should be taken before entering public transportation, students must wear masks on public transportation.
- Upon entry to a school policy: everyone takes temperature when entering school. Another temperature measurement is undertaken during the day. The temperature taking machine that I am referring to is https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2178320/department-uses-thermal-imaging-to-detect-covid-19/
- If there is a case with a fever, the person should be quarantined in a separate room awaiting for the parent to pick up.
- Everyone (administrators, teachers, staff and students) should wear a mask and stay distanced from one another as follows – indoors 1.5 meter (5 feet) and 1 meter (3 feet) outdoors.
- Everyone should clean their hands before entering classes. This can be accomplished by having a sanitizer at the entrance of each class. Only students and staff may enter the schools.
- For middle schools that switch subjects, students should stay in the same room, while teachers move to the classes they are to teach their subject/curriculum next. This conduct proved mitigate any cross contamination and avoid community spread.
- QR code was created in each class or office for colleges, high schools, and middle schools so it would be easy to trace any confirmed case’s contracted via cell phone. A text message was sent if/when a confirmed case in the class or office the person visited was confirmed.
- All students were encouraged to write a diary detailing temperature and daily activities just in case there is a confirmed case, so that the history could be more easily traced. Students were taught how to clean their personal items such as cell phones, keys, keyboards, mouse pads, door knobs, etc.
- Schools were cleaned on a daily basis, elevator buttons, door knobs, table tops, keyboards, chairs, light switches, staircase railings, main offices, bathrooms, libraries, auditoriums, gyms, and dining halls. Walkie talkies, gym balls, trash cans, also needed to be sprayed clean.
- Assigned seats should be separated at least 5 feet apart.
- Use of a divider/shield in classes or lunchrooms whenever possible. See attached image that was received from an NYU staff member. If financially impossible, then classes were to be limited in the lunchroom at each lunch period to observe social distancing. (Classes take turns going to the lunchroom, classes A and B going on Monday, classes C and D going on Tuesday, etc.) Request that students not sit opposite each other if a divider is not available.
- Students should be taught how to clean their hands, not to touch their face and how to safely remove their masks. Everyone should wash their hands before eating lunch or a snack, take their mask off right before eating lunch or a snack, lay the outside of their mask on a paper towel or tissue paper, put the mask back on after lunch or snack, wash their hands again after wearing their mask, and use a hand sanitizer if a wash sink is not available.
- Protective gear should be worn by the cafeteria personnel. Bagged lunch should be given instead of lunches served on trays.
- Leave the classroom window open as much as possible
- If masks are still in shortage, masks were suggested to be recycled for several times by placing it in brown sandwich bags (labeled Monday to Friday) to quarantine for 7 days (https://www.today.com/health/reusing-face-masks-how-remove-clean-store-safely-t180985), or under sunlight for several hours, or dry steam in a rice cooker (Taiwan), or encourage parents to make 7 cloth mask covers (Monday to Sunday), see attached pictures, students will need only one mask to be inserted into the cloth mask covers. The cloth mask cover can be changed daily, the actual mask can be used for quite a while. This can mitigate the stress of not having enough mask supplies.
That’s my summary report for now.
Please be safe and healthy.
Best regards, Sophia Wu