COVID-19: UNICEF, WHO and IFRC issue guidance to protect children and support safe school operations

10th March 2020

Guidance includes practical actions and checklists for administrators, teachers, parents and children

NOTE: Download the joint guidance on protecting children and schools from Covid-19

DUBLIN/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 10 March 2020 – The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) today issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities.

In the event of school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and wellbeing. This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools.

Where schools remain open, and to make sure that children and their families remain protected and informed, the guidance calls for:

The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure, requires many considerations, but if done well, can promote public health.

For example, safe school guidelines implemented in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during the outbreak of Ebola from 2014 to 2016 helped prevent school-based transmissions of the virus.

UNICEF is urging schools – whether open or helping students through remote learning – to provide students with holistic support. Schools should provide children with vital information on handwashing and other measures to protect themselves and their families; facilitate mental health support; and help to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to be kind to each other and avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.

The new guidance also offers helpful tips and checklists for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students themselves. These actions include:

ENDS

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Notes for editors:

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for every child, visit our website

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About IFRC

IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.

www.ifrc.org  Facebook – Twitter – YouTube

About WHO

For updates on COVID-19 and public health advice to protect yourself from coronavirus, follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube

For more information, please contact:

Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland, aedin@unicef.ie, Tel: +353 1 809 0291, Mob: +353 85 1395272

Christopher Tidey, UNICEF New York, +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org

Laura Ngô-Fontaine, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, + 41 22 730 4485, Mob. +41 79 570 4418, laura.ngofontaine@ifrc.org

Tarik Jasarevic, WHO, +41227915099, Mob. +41 79 367 6214, jasarevict@who.int