COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education systems in history and the central issue in school re-opening decisions is how to proceed as safely as possible, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative told Trend.
The representative said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries, and the European region is no exception. Most countries in Europe closed schools at some point between February and July this year, as part of COVID-19- related health and social measures.
"The central issue in school re-opening decisions is how to proceed as safely as possible with school re-opening, based on an understanding of the public health risks incurred, for the children, staff and their immediate social contacts, but also the epidemiological context. If we can control transmission in the community, it would be safe to open schools, both for students and the people who work there," the representative said.
WHO official noted that the WHO European Regional Office will convene a virtual meeting for all 53 Member States on schooling and COVID-19 on 31 August.
"It will be Europe’s opportunity to assess the strongest available evidence on COVID-19 risks to children and discuss concrete actions to ensure they receive proper education in safe settings," the WHO official said.
In representative’s words, one of the options to make school opening as safe as possible might include heightened hygiene and physical distancing for all in school settings.
"At the same time the introduction of targeted measures quickly and effectively to suit local circumstances should be considered – open schools fully where virus levels are low; adjust school schedules and limit pupil numbers where cases are more widespread and consider keeping schools closed temporarily in areas where community transmission is high," the official said.
WHO official noted the fact that children can transmit the disease.
"While it seems that they are less likely to get a severe illness, they could transmit it to others. We should do our utmost to avoid getting infected, no matter what age. Children need to be educated on the importance of physical distancing, clean hands, and other measures to prevent transmission. It is important for adults to talk with them, answer their questions and address their fears," the official said.
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