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UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO update safety guidance for schools during COVID-19 pandemic

UNESCO Director General, Audrey Azoulay; Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore yesterday presented recommendations to ensure the continuity of education safely during the COVID-19 pandemic in an online press conference.


The recommendations on managing educational establishments for children up to the age of 18 are detailed in the joint publication, Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19. They were developed with input from the Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Educational Institutions and COVID-19, established by the three UN organizations in June 2020.


Recognizing the importance of schools, the experts reviewed the latest available evidence to develop interim guidance, taking into consideration equity, resource implications and feasibility.


The guidance provides information on ways to implement a risk-based approach according to the level and intensity of the transmission of COVID-19, with age-appropriate considerations for physical distancing and masks in schools to mitigate the spread of the disease.

At the forefront of all considerations and decisions should be the continuity of education for children for their overall well-being, health and safety.


This is an annex to the WHO Public Health and Social Measures in the context of COVID-19 replacing an earlier version published by the WHO on 10 May 2020, and applies to educational settings for children under the age of 18 years.


Specific recommended measures in this updated advice include staggering the times for school opening, closing, mealtimes and breaks; handwashing facilities; cleaning of surfaces and shared objects; and establishing mechanisms to share information with parents, students and teachers.