Teaching School Germ Safety With Gamification

LOCI’s Germ Safe System uses gamification and social-emotional learning principles to overcome educational barriers and reinforce school germ safety behaviours.

A safe school climate is a necessary foundation for learning. The key elements of a safe school environment include physical safety, emotional safety, community connectedness and trusted relationships. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had disastrous consequences for many students because the safety of their learning environment has been undermined on all fronts: the school no longer feels like a safe space; kids are subject to the same fear and confusion as adults due to misinformation and a continually changing pandemic landscape; students learning from home feel disconnected from peers and teachers, leaving them isolated and disengaged from their studies. 

Even in non-pandemic times, an unsafe environment can have serious consequences for student learning outcomes.

It’s been shown that unsafe school environments lead to:

  • Bullying
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Distraction from learning
  • Disconnection from community
  • Disregard for consequences

After nearly a year of school closures and other restrictive measures due to the pandemic, recent reports are showing the extent of the negative effects on students, including overall declines in attendance, academic achievement and emotional wellbeing.

How a germ safety game is making schools safer

Many of the issues students currently face have to do with learning from home and the resultant loss of community connection and relationship development. Returning to school can help to alleviate those challenges, but it comes with a new set of stressors. 

Until the pandemic is over, concern over virus transmission will persist. Protocols like wearing a mask and physical distancing are known, but the behaviours are still new and students need to develop their situational awareness and germ safe habits.

LOCI developed the Germ Safe System to help people return to school, work and other aspects of public life feeling safe and confident.

Germ Safe is a self-serve game creator that turns pictures of your environment into interactive “germ scenes.” In the game, people explore germ scenes to identify hotspots where germs gather, learn about germ-safe behaviours, and improve their situational awareness when it comes to germ-safe activities.

The game, called GSI: Germ Scene Investigation, teaches the “why” behind public health orders like physical distancing and wearing a mask using scientifically proven facts. By helping players contextualize new germ-safe protocols and creating a better understanding of their purpose, GSI facilitates the adoption of germ safe behaviours and helps make our new normal feel natural.

Germ Safe incorporates microlearning and gaming elements like missions, levels and rewards to capture people’s attention and deliver important information in a way that’s digestible and memorable. The game’s image-forward design is accessible to a broad range of reading levels and its web-based delivery means it can be accessed by any device with a browser. No app downloads or operating system updates are required. 

GSI: Germ Scene Investigation offers a more effective way of learning COVID-safe facts than bulletins, handouts, or presentations. In the game, players learn how to identify germ hotspots, how long the COVID-19 virus can live on common surfaces, and how to determine safe vs risky situations, helping them build germ awareness and safe decision making skills. The game’s adaptable and customizable format makes it easy for any school in any region to meet the unique needs of their students.

Helping California schools reopen safely

As federal, state and county officials debate over the plan to reopen schools in the state of California, LOCI is helping one school district prepare for the inevitable return to the classroom by providing access to a customized version of GSI for free. 

Shandin Hills Middle School in the San Bernardino City Unified School District will be the first school in the district to launch GSI in spring 2021. 

“GSI: Germ Scene Investigation has gamified safety!” shares Teri Niewoehner, an educator at Shandin Hills. “The game manages to incorporate science, safety and health into an engaging virtual game that informs students of all ages and levels. I highly recommend this program.” 

If you’re a parent or an educator, you know how critical school personnel are in creating a safe environment for learning. Now, as schools reopen, we must also do what we can to help children recover from the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic and become more resilient. Germ Safe is designed to build people’s confidence when it comes to acting in a germ safe way. By sharing Germ Safe with students and staff, schools can build the trust required to restore students’ sense of safety and readiness to learn.

Interested in enhancing the germ safety at your school? Contact us to get free access to our student-friendly version of the Germ Safe game.

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