Millions of students ready to return to schools across Europe where the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is dominant. The Regional Office ofWHO for Europe and the Regional Office ofUNICEF for Europe and Central Asia they demand that schools remain open and be made safer by taking measures to minimize the transmission of the virus.
These measures include: offering teachers and other school staff the COVID-19 vaccine by making them part of the target population groups in national vaccination plans, while ensuring vaccination of vulnerable groups. In addition, children aged 12 and over with previous medical conditions that significantly increase their risk of contracting severe COVID-19 should be vaccinated; improvements to the school environment, through better ventilation of the classrooms, smaller classrooms where possible, social distancing and regular testing of children and staff are other important actions.
“The pandemic has caused the most catastrophic disruption of education in history. It is therefore vital that classroom learning continues uninterrupted throughout the European region. This is of paramount importance for the education, mental health and social skills of children. children, for schools to help equip our children with the tools to be happy and productive members of society, “she explains Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
“It will take some time before we can leave the pandemic behind us, but training children safely in a physical school environment must remain our primary goal, so as not to deprive them of the opportunities they so deserve. We encourage all countries. to keep schools open and we urge all schools to put in place measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 and the spread of different variants “.
Increase vaccination to protect yourself from the Delta variant
The highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has added further concern and complication during this year’s school opening period. The high incidence of COVID-19 in the community makes transmission in schools much more likely. Therefore, we must all strive to reduce the transmission of the virus.
The data clearly show that receiving a full complement of COVID-19 vaccinations significantly reduces the risk of serious illness and death. Therefore, when you are called to get the vaccine, please do so and make sure you complete the full course of vaccine doses.
“Vaccination is our best defense against the virus, and for the pandemic to end we need to rapidly scale up vaccinations fairly across countries, including by supporting vaccine production and dose sharing, to protect the most vulnerable,” everywhere. We also need to continue to follow public health and social measures that we know work, including tampons, tracking, isolation and quarantine, “said Hans Henri P. Kluge.
Philippe CoriUNICEF Deputy Regional Director Europe and Central Asia said: “The pandemic is not over. We all have a role to play in ensuring that schools remain open throughout the region. Children and young people cannot risk another year of learning. Vaccination and protective measures will together help prevent a return to the darkest days of the pandemic, when people had to endure lockdowns and children faced disruption of learning. “
“Children were the silent victims of the pandemic, and the most marginalized were among the most affected. Before COVID-19, the most vulnerable children in the region were already out of school, or at school but were not learning at the same level as their peers. A school is much more than a building. It is a place of learning, safety and play, at the heart of our communities. When closed, children cannot learn, be with their friends and could be exposed to violence in the home. The pandemic has made an already unacceptable situation worse – we need to make sure that schools reopen, and that they stay open safely, ”Cori added.
To help keep schools open and safe, WHO, UNICEF and UNESCO have endorsed a set of eight expert recommendations developed by the WHO European Technical Advisory Group for Schools during COVID-19.
For use by the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region, here are the 8 Recommendations:
1. Schools must be among the last places to close and the first to reopen.
2. Implement a testing strategy.
3. Ensure effective risk mitigation measures.
4. Protect the mental and social well-being of children.
5. Protect the most vulnerable and marginalized children.
6. Improve the school environment.
7. Involve children and adolescents in the decision-making process.
8. Implement a vaccination strategy designed to keep children in school.