The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a new checklist that will help schools to re-open and prepare for possible COVID-19 resurgences.
The checklist contains 38 points of action for schools to consider when preparing reopening plans, as well as for preparing for possible resurgence of the COVID-19 virus as well as other potential health crises.
Data collected by UNESCO shows that 320 million classrooms have been closed from 1 December, an increase of nearly 90 million from 232 million on 1 November, with some children being out of school for nine months or more.
The checklist, which has been developed in accordance with the health-promoting schools principles, aims to help schools adhere to existing COVID-19 health measures designed to protect children under the age of 18 in educational settings.
Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO Director of Health Promotion, said: “Schools can reopen safely. Decisions to reopen schools should be driven by data and the safety measures in place, but also address the concerns of students, parents, caregivers, and teachers. These concerns are best addressed if reopening approaches are co-designed with students, parents, caregivers, and teachers.”
The checklists also puts a focus on protective measures such as hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; physical distancing; use of masks in schools; environmental cleaning and ventilation; and respecting procedures for isolation of all people with symptoms.
Some points focus on reorganising school layouts for better social distancing and changing school schedules such as breaks to help minimise transmission.
To help schools prepare for potential COVID-19 resurgences, the checklist includes points to help with designing plans, protocols, and training in anticipation of increased transmission or prevalence of COVID-19-related illness.
The checklist was developed by WHO, in collaboration with UNESCO, the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and members from the health-promoting schools expert working group. To read the full checklist, click here.