Keep schools open; don’t make COVID-19 vaccination prerequisite for in-person classes: UNICEF

UNICEF said 616 million children are affected by school closures and that teachers and school staff should be vaccinated immediately.

Keep schools open; don’t make COVID-19 vaccination prerequisite for in-person classes: UNICEF UNICEF asks governments to keep schools open
Vagisha Kaushik | Jan 28, 2022 - 6:02 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has asked the governments across the world to keep schools open for children in an official statement. UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said, “no excuses. Keep schools open. Children can’t wait.”

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“As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues its spread all over the world, we urge governments to do everything in their power to keep it from further disrupting children’s education,” said UNICEF while recommending steps to keep schools open.

Schools opening: Recommendations of UNICEF

  • “Keep schools open. An estimated 616 million children are currently affected by full or partial school closures. We know that mitigation measures help keep schools open. We also know that investments in digital connectivity can help us make sure that no child is left behind. We need bold action to enable every child to return to school. This includes providing comprehensive support with a particular focus on marginalized children in each community, such as catch-up classes, mental health and nutrition support, protection and other key services.
  • “Vaccinate teachers and school staff immediately. Teachers and school personnel should be fully supported and prioritized to receive COVID-19 vaccines, once frontline health personnel and high-risk populations are vaccinated.
  • “UNICEF supports the vaccination of children once vaccines are available to them and once priority groups are fully protected,” said UNICEF. It asked governments not to make vaccination a precondition for in-person classes. “Making access to in-person schooling contingent on COVID-19 vaccination risks denying children access to education and increasing inequalities,” it said. Consistent with WHO recommendations, UNICEF recommends keeping schools open and ensuring that countries’ COVID-19 control strategies facilitate children’s participation in education and other aspects of social life, even without vaccination.

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“In crisis conditions there are always difficult decisions that force difficult trade-offs, and we recognize the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating for school systems worldwide. But the stakes are too high. We must collectively do everything we can to keep children in school,” UNICEF statement further said.

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