School closures “resort of last resort” even after Omicron outbreak (UNICEF)

As the world experiences a new outbreak of Covid-19 cases, fueled rapidly by Omicron, another wave of widespread school closures would be “devastating” for children, UNICEF warned on Friday.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement, “Even if the Omicron version does take hold, closing schools should be a last resort.”

“The evidence is clear: Prolonged school closures across the country, limited resources for students, teachers and parents, and lack of access to distance education have eroded decades of progress in education and left childhood unrecognizable. UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore was quoted in the press release.

→ Also read: According to UNICEF, Kovid-19, the “biggest” global crisis for children in 75 years

As community transmission of the novel coronavirus increases and strict public health measures become necessary, UNICEF believes “schools should be the last place to close and first to reopen”.

The Children’s Fund advocates using this knowledge to do whatever is possible to keep schools open, while increasing investment in digital connectivity to ensure no children are born.

According to a report released by UNICEF last October, there are at least 200 million students living in about 30 developing countries who are still unwilling to switch to distance learning in the event of an emergency closure of schools.

Of these students, 102 million live in 14 countries that have completely or partially closed their schools during at least half of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many children out of any form of education.

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