Health Desk- 21 March 2020: The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities.
In the event of school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and wellbeing. This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools.
Where schools remain open, and to make sure that children and their families remain protected and informed, the guidance calls for:
The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses.
UNICEF is urging schools – whether open or helping students through remote learning – to provide students with holistic support.
The new guidance also offers helpful tips and checklists for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students themselves. These actions include: