UN calls for school closings to be a last resort option

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The UN, through UNICEF, UNESCO and the WHO, requested this Tuesday that the closure of schools be considered by governments a last resort option in containing the advance of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to close should be a last resort and a temporary one“Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in a joint and telematic press conference.

During that time, according to his speech, he should ensure continuity of teaching and apply in the centers the measures that allow a safe reopening.

His speech together with the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, and the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore, served to review his good practice guide released this week.

That roadmap establishes that school closings or reopens must take into account the local advance of the epidemic, the ability of educational institutions to adapt to a operation with sanitary guarantees, the impact of that decision on the well-being and education of children and the rest of the measures applied at the local level.

A recent UNICEF report warned on September 1 that, although 900 million of the 1.5 billion students worldwide from preschool to secondary school should return to school between August and October, only 433 million will.

“The more time passes, the greater the consequences, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds “, Azoulay highlighted in that telematic presentation.

The three organizations warned that minors, especially girls, face a higher risk of physical, sexual or mental violence and are more vulnerable to child labor when they cannot go to class.

“For the most marginalized, even if it is only a matter of weeks, the effects can last a lifetime“added the head of Unicef, who stressed that” investing in children is the best possible investment. “

Your guide advises keep students in small groups that they do not mix with each other, guarantee access to masks, that the infrastructures are clean and ventilated and that the space is reorganized to try to respect a distance of at least one meter between schoolchildren.

In those areas where there are no cases or only sporadic cases, he estimates that Children under the age of twelve should not be forced to maintain that distance all the time.

Stipulate different entry and exit times, increasing the number of teachers and, if possible, reducing the number of students per class and avoiding that students congregate in groups when queuing are other recommendations.

All three organizations emphasize that children under the age of five should not be forced to wear a mask, that between the ages of six and eleven depends on the risk there is and that those over twelve should follow the same guidelines as adults.

The daily temperature measurement, waiving a medical note to justify the absences and ensuring that those who have been in contact with a positive stay at home for 14 days join some advice for the follow-up of which the commitment not only of the educational community, but of all the society.

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