As the world works through the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, adapting to our current state of things has been central in navigating our “new normal”. The process of re-opening simulation facilities amidst the ongoing pandemic offers no exception, as it presents its own set of new challenges that require a number of new actions and measures that were previously undealt with.
A recent publication by Advances in Simulation titled “COVID-19 crisis, safe reopening of simulation centres and the new normal: food for thought” offered several key actions that should be implemented in every facility in order to ensure all activities are occurring safely and that all required and recommended measures are being followed. Below is a summary of the article’s suggestions broken down by subject area:
Personnel: Simulation centers should create a Covid-19 response task force in order to effectively manage risks and new challenges, closely monitor both the internal facility environment and the external environment, and develop and implement plans that will help safeguard the facility. All employees, trainees and visitors should be screened before entering the facility. An administrator, wearing proper protective equipment such as gloves, a face mask and a face shield, should take the temperatures of those entering the building and only grant entry to those who have temperatures below 37.5 °C. All personnel should adhere to social distancing protocols, wear facemasks upon entering the facility and wear additional protective equipment when activities, such as simulation training exercises, lead to individuals coming into close contact with one another. Visitors should remain outside the building, preferably in their vehicles, unless entrance into the facility is granted. Entry and exit times should be staggered to avoid crowds in common areas. Personnel should be organized into groups in order to control facility capacity and contain a potential outbreak. Online meetings and training should replace in person versions when possible, and domestic and/or international travel is ill-advised.
Space: Facilities should work to rearrange their floor plans, classrooms, and skill labs to create an environment that makes following social distancing guidelines easy and achievable. Movement around the facility should be guided to minimize the chance of path crossing and air ventilation should be maximized, while air recirculation should be minimized or eliminated if possible. It is advised that floors are marked with arrows or lines that indicate which way to walk and how far apart to stand or sit. Proper hand washing and hand rubbing methods, as well as other hygienic and sanitary methods, should be displayed by WHO-issued posters throughout the facility. Maximum capacity numbers should be set for all rooms and elevators. Plastic shields should be installed to protect staff working in close proximity with others.