United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund in a statement said the Number of schoolchildren affected by COVID-19 in relation to school closures soared by 38% in November, badly affecting the educational process and well-being of additional 90 million students globally.
UNESCO analysis shows schools for 1 in 5 children that form up to 320 students globally are closed as of December first, increasing the mark to nearly 90 million from 232 million students on November 1st.
In the month of October school children affected by the pandemic had decreased by three-folds.
“In spite of everything we have learned about COVID-19, the role of schools in community transmission, and the steps we can take to keep children safe at school, we are moving in the wrong direction—and doing so very quickly,” said Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Global Chief of Education. “Evidence shows that schools are not the main drivers of this pandemic. Yet, we are seeing an alarming trend whereby governments are once again closing down schools as a first recourse rather than a last resort. In some cases, this is being done nationwide, rather than community by community, and children are continuing to suffer the devastating impacts on their learning, mental and physical well-being and safety.”
Jenkins added, “What we have learned about schooling during the time of COVID is clear: the benefits of keeping schools open far outweigh the costs of closing them, and nationwide closures of schools should be avoided at all costs,”
School closures put children at risk of losing their learning, support system, food, and safety, students who altogether face drop out will be paying the heaviest price, as millions of children remain away from school for more than nine months, UNICEF fears many schools are closing unnecessarily and that most countries have not focused on taking important steps to make schools safer during the pandemic, the statement reads.
In addition to 3.7 students who cannot attend school, 7.5 other children in Afghanistan have missed their classes due to the COVID-19.
UNICEF urges nations to prioritize school opening and take precautions against the coronavirus, due to global data from 191 countries collected shows no association between schools’ status and COVID-19, there are little pieces of evidence that show schools contributing to the higher transmission of the virus.
Reopening schools must include plans to expand access to education, remote learning, especially for marginalized groups.
According to the statement, schools must be prepared to withstand future crises, UNICEF’s framework for reopening schools is issued jointly with UNESCO, UNCHR, WFP, and the World Bank.