|UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers (Photo: UNICEF)
“Knowing the impact of school closures, it is clear that the decision for children to be in the classroom is in their best interests,” Flowers said in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency.
“The risks to children of being out of school are more significant than the risks of being in school.” “The reality is that when everything is open – all businesses, restaurants - there is no justification for schools to remain closed,” according to the UNICEF Representative.
Statistics announced by UNICEF on International Day of Education (January 24) reveal that more than 635 million students remain affected by full or partial school closures.
Globally, disruption to education has meant millions of children have significantly missed out on the academic learning they would have acquired if they had been in the classroom, with younger and more marginalized children facing the greatest loss.
“The best way to protect children for the return to school is in fact exactly what the Government of Vietnam is already doing: continuity of the 5K practice and ensure full vaccination plus booster of the adults in children's lives,” Flowers said.
She cited global experience showing that in-school mitigation measures work and it is possible to keep schools open for in-person learning. UNICEF has contributed to the development of the Ministry of Education and Training’s Framework for School Reopening to provide practical and flexible advice to help students return to in-person learning, she continued.
She pointed out the fact that some cases of COVID-19 would be found in schools, saying it is likely that where cases are identified, the children may be asked to return to online learning while the risk to infection is managed.
“Evidence confirms that children tend to be less affected by the virus – and as we learn to live with this virus – managing small outbreaks will be essential,” she added.
“It is very important that if you know your children have been exposed, even if they don’t yet have symptoms – that you keep them at home for several days to protect them and other children at school.”
Flowers went on to say that UNICEF and education partners are working together to support the Vietnamese Government to ensure that schools soon reopen in safe and conducive learning environments.