Prevent the spread of coronaviruses through printed self-learning modules

Posted by Greten on 20 Jul 2020 under Tips

The coronavirus pandemic puts a halt in leisure and social activities, and the businesses that are tied with them. Other businesses that rely on technology adapted by allowing their employees to work from home. The education sector is also severely affected by the pandemic not just in terms of how teachers and other employees can go to work, but also how students can attend classes.

The pandemic, called Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The 2 is to differentiate it from SARS-COV that caused the outbreak in 2003. Also known by various names such as novel coronavirus, Chinese virus, and Wuhan virus, it first appeared in Wuhan City in China in December 2019 and scattered throughout the world during the first half of 2020.

A brown spherical coronavirus with several orange funnel-like structures evenly distributed on its surface,In the Philippines, classes start in June, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government moved it to August. With no signs of slowing down and observing countries such as South Korea where schools reopen just to close again due to the pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) looked for ways to implement distance education to protect both the students and the teachers from the pandemic.

The internet is the most obvious solution. Several institutions of higher learning already provide blended learning, such as AMA University and Colleges, or full online education, such as University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU). Thus, replicating their systems to basic education may not be that difficult.

However, there is another important question. If students need to rely on the internet for education, how about those who have no internet? There are students in the Philippines who come from families that earn so low they cannot afford internet connection or live in far-flung areas with no available internet infrastructure.

Enter the printed self-learning modules

The self-learning modules are learning materials prepared by the DepEd to guide the students in self-studies. The self-learning modules are among the alternative learning delivery modalities, together with online, blended, radio, and television, that DepEd is currently setting up to facilitate the school year 2020-2021.2

The target of DepEd is to finish all the self-learning modules for the first quarter before 24 August 2020, the first day of the school year 2020-2021.3

There's still no available information on how DepEd is planning to deliver the printed-self-learning modules to individual students' homes. The plan is to deliver the modules to schools in far-flung areas with no access to the internet or electricity2, but how these modules can reach the students is not yet clear.

In Imus, Cavite, over 100 teachers with motorcycles volunteered to deliver the printed learning modules to the students' homes every quarter or as needed. The volunteers also include principals and non-teaching school employees.5

Disinfect the printed self-learning modules

When buying groceries and other items, we avoid the spread of coronaviruses into our homes by carefully disinfecting them. To protect the students from the possible spread of coronaviruses, advise them to disinfect these self-learning modules.

However, these modules are papers. You cannot clean them with soap and alcohol without destroying them. So, how can you and your students disinfect the printed self-learning modules?

Leave the printed modules somewhere it cannot be touched for days

There are bodies of research that determines how long a coronavirus last on the surface of different materials. In general, smoother surfaces such as plastics and metals have a higher chance of transmitting coronaviruses than porous surfaces such as papers and cloth. A porous surface traps some of the viruses.8

For papers, the coronaviruses lasts from three hours to four days depending on the kind of paper6, while another study places the upper bracket to five days.7 While factors such as temperature and humidity affect the viability of coronaviruses, it's generally safe to use the printed modules after five days

When your students receive the learning modules, tell them to:

  1. Place the printed self-learning module immediately in a plastic envelop (or better yet, distribute the modules with plastic envelops).
  2. Disinfect the outside of the plastic envelop with alcohol without opening it.
  3. Store it somewhere no one can open it by accident or put a label saying it can only be opened on a specified date, which is the sixth day after receiving.
  4. On the sixth day, the student can open and use the learning module.

Disinfect papers using a flat iron

Aside from waiting for six days, your students can also disinfect coronaviruses on papers using a flat iron. The lowest setting of flat iron is at around 135°C, which is suitable for acrylic and nylon.4

Any material heated to only 54°C can deactivate more than 99.99% of the virus within 20 minutes. The same result can be obtained by heating the material to 66°C within five minutes.1 Hence, for a material heated at 135°C, the deactivation of 99.99% of the coronavirus must be instantaneous.

Your students may disinfect using flat iron if they:

  • Need to study the modules earlier and could not wait for six days
  • Are not comfortable with something that might contain coronavirus stored inside their house for almost a week
  • Want to be extra careful even after storing the self-learning modules for six days

Do not use steam iron to disinfect papers because steam irons produce mists that will make the paper wet. Use a regular flat iron with hot metal underside. To disinfect the printed self-learning modules using papers:

  1. Turn on the flat iron to its lowest heat setting.
  2. Run the flat iron on the surface of the ironing board to ensure that it is disinfected.
  3. Divide the ironing board into three sections: the first section is where to put the papers that are not yet disinfected, the middle section is where to iron the papers, and the last section is where to put the papers that are already ironed.
    • Alternatively, divide the ironing board into two sections, one for papers that are not yet disinfected and one on which to iron them. Put a small table with a file folder rack on the side of the ironing board. The table and the file folder rack should be something already disinfected or bought before the pandemic hit.

An illustration of an ironing board with a flat iron standing on the far right, a stack of paper on the right, an orange cloth draping at the middle, and a single piece of paper on the right.

  1. Remove the printed self-help learning modules from the folder or envelop it is contained. Discard the envelope or folder, or disinfect with alcohol (if plastic) or iron it first (if made of paper), and then put it aside.
  2. Remove all paper clips if there are any, and disinfect them with alcohol before putting them aside.
  3. Put the stack of paper on the ironing board, on the section for those that are not yet disinfected.
  4. Get the first paper on top of the pile and iron it on the middle section. Iron only one side of the paper.
  5. After ironing, put it on the third section of the ironing board or the file folder rack. The side facing up when it is not yet disinfected should be facing down or leaning on the side of the rack. If done to all the succeeding pages, the order they are arranged when received will be preserved
  6. Repeat steps 7 and 8 to all the other pages.
  7. Put the disinfected pages aside.
    • Put it back to the envelope or folder if already disinfected
    • Put it to a new and clean envelope
  8. Iron the ironing board's surface again to deactivate any remaining coronaviruses, especially on the not-yet-disinfected section.
  9. The self-learning module is now ready for use.

Disclaimer: Available information about the SARS-CoV-2 is currently evolving. The tips presented here are prepared based on the available information at the time of its writing. Under no circumstances is the author and owner of this blog going to be liable if after following the tips presented here, you or your students still caught COVID-19.


  1. Baggett L. (2020) "Heat is key to killing coronavirus on surfaces", UGA Today, retrieved 28 July 2020
  2. Department of Education (2020) "DepEd prepares self-learning Modules for education’s new normal", Department of Education, retrieved 28 July 2020
  3. Domingo K. (2020) "DepEd yet to print 'self-learning modules' for students without internet 2 months before class opening", ABS CBN News, retrieved 28 July 2020
  4. Lyn A. (n.d.) "How to Choose Iron Temperatures for Fabrics", Ehow, retrieved 28 July 2020
  5. Ornedo J.M. (2020) "Imus, Cavite teachers to deliver learning modules to students on motorcycles", GMA News Online, retrieved 28 July 2020
  6. Seladi-Schulman J. (2020) "How long does the coronavirus live on different surfaces?", Healthline, retrieved 28 July 2020
  7. Watson S. (2020) "How long does the coronavirus live on surfaces?", WebMD, retrieved 28 July 2020
  8. Woodward A. (2020) "The coronavirus can live on a surgical mask for 7 days, cloth for 2 days, and paper for 3 hours. Here's how to disinfect surfaces properly", Business Insider, retrieved 28 July 2020


Last updated on 20 Jul 2020.

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