Watch: In this Sharjah school, you don’t have to go only to the bathroom to wash your hands amid COVID-19

Keith Sykes, headteacher of Victoria English School in Sharjah with artist and curator Yoshita Ahmed showcasing the school’s innovative sinks
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sharjah: The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many schools around the world to search for innovative ways to protect themselves.

Handwashing with soap and water, when done correctly, is critical in the fight against COVID-19, as per World Health Organisation.

Now Victoria English School (VES) in Sharjah, which has 800 students, has taken a novel initiative to encourage hand washing by turning dozens of barrels into colourful sinks and installing themacross the hallways and at the school’s yard. “One of the things we are trying to do is get students not to associate hand washing as something they should do when they visit the bathroom. We want to educate them that hand washing is part of hygiene and good COVID-19 preparedness,” Keith Sykes, head teacher at VES, told Gulf News.

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A student washing his hands at the barrel sink
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

He said that ten barrels were set inside the school and in the yard to prevent crowds of students around sinks in the bathrooms to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “We brought some barrels and designed them with sinks and water tanks. The handwashing stations will be placed in the yard so students can wash their hands during break time. We want to build a culture to encourage students to wash their hands as a regular practice, not only because of COVID-19.”

Ameen Al Nezami, chairman of the school, said they worked hard through the summer break to prepare the school for an on-site study during COVID-19. He said that a team of inspectors from Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) visited the school and asked to get more sinks for students to wash their hands. “We put a plan to get more sinks in the hallways but that needed a lot of plumbing work and redesigning of the school layout. I came up with the idea of having colourful barrels and transforming them into washing hands stations,” Al Nezami said.

He discussed the idea with the school staff and all joined hands to do the job quickly before the schools reopened to students. “We took the barrels to a factory to cut them up and place the sinks and the tank for used water. We put a tank of water above the washing station and the idea worked well,” Al Nezami added.

Youshita Ahmad, art curator at VES, painted the barrels with themes of UAE, Egypt and England landmarks inside her art workshop in the school. “We tried to make schools more welcoming to students to wash their hands. With the colourful sinks, students are happy to watch and wash,” she said.

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Artist Yoshita Ahmed at work on the drums
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

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