We owe our children to remain safe while learning at schools amidst COVID-19

Closure and reopening of schools is a controversial topic in countries with both serious and less severe outbreaks of Covid-19.
For parents, safety of their children at school is questionable. But, from the public health point of view, a positive factor in the back-to-school argument is that it is possible to open the schools with staggered timetables and desks space apart and ‘new’ school guidelines with social distancing requirements and temperature checks, and masks.
Education is important for a society’s future, and learning must not be halted. The current interruption in the routine must end sooner, rather than later, by overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19.
When it comes to opening schools amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we should learn lessons from Viet Nam which is a shining example of reopening schools after containing the virus.
Here is what school life looks like during a global pandemic.
Schools should also step up the monitoring of health conditions of teachers and students, and those who are sick must be prohibited from going to school.
Classrooms and the school canteens should be rearranged to ensure that social distancing could be managed and students also have staggered lunch-times to enable this to be managed carefully.
Necessary health and hygiene matters, such as hand washing and social distancing should be the top priorities to ensure all students are safe while studying at school.
Hand sanitizers or proper hand washing facilities should be placed outside of all rooms and in all hallways, and teachers should remind students to wash their hands regularly.
Large group gatherings such as the usual school assembly, and team sports and competitions, should remain cancelled.
To keep a safe social distance, the density of personnel should be strictly controlled in schools.
Education departments and schools should liaise with health authorities and nearby medical institutions to establish coordination mechanisms in the fight against the virus.
Meanwhile, caution must remain the byword, lest a resurgence of infections, or even a single case involving a teacher or student in a school setting, prompts a halt to or even reversal of the relaxation of restrictions.
While the efficacy of school closure is also debatable, the potential negative consequences of this measure cannot be ignored.
In fact, Covid-19 is a new problem for us, but a problem which is familiar to us. A critical need to solve a problem is the power of reviewing the situation in the right way. That in essence is wisdom.
Using all existing and emerging data — however incomplete — we should make our best-informed recommendations to help our policy makers make this crucial decision, based on science, as soon as possible. We owe this to our children.

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