The novel coronavirus has killed over 4500 and infected over 100,000 people globally, and as more and more countries are reporting cases of the virus, international health organisations have issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Also Read - 'Coronavirus Could Infect 70% of Germans,' Warns Angela Merkel as Country Reports Third Death
Aside from how to keep schools safe, the guidance from the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities. Also Read - How to Curb Your Panic Over Coronavirus by Curbing Your Anxiety
In cases where schools remain open, the guidance calls for the provision of information to children on how to protect themselves, along with the promotion of best handwashing and hygiene practices and providing hygiene supplies. Where schools are concerned, it advises that buildings be cleaned and disinfected, especially the water and sanitation facilities, and to increase airflow and ventilation. Also Read - Coronavirus: Total Cases Rise to 66 Across Country, Centre Suspends Existing Visas to India Till April 15
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 monitoring children’s health and keeping them home from school if they are ill; encouraging children to ask questions and express their concerns; and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth and nose.