Published: 30th October 2021
Keep schools open with appropriate prevention measures in place: WHO Europe
According to WHO Europe, Science must trump politics and the long-term interests of children must remain a priority
Despite the World Health Organization's (WHO) European Region registering a steady increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections for a fourth consecutive week, it is still advising schools to remain open with "appropriate preventive and response measures in place". "Last year's widespread school closures, disrupting the education of millions of children and adolescents, did more harm than good, especially to children's mental and social well-being. We can't repeat the same mistakes," Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO Europe's Regional Director, said in a statement issued on Friday, October 29.
According to the WHO, the increases have already triggered an immediate response from national and local governments to protect the schools across the region that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. "A total of 45 countries and territories recommended that schools remain open for in-person learning with infection prevention and control. Seven countries opted for full or partial school closures, either at a national or sub-national level, and two countries recommend distance learning," the WHO statement said.
According to WHO Europe, "interrupting children's education should be a last resort". "Science must trump politics and the long-term interests of children must remain a priority, especially now that a number of countries are seeing a spike in transmission. We have more efficient tools to address this spike than closing schools," Kluge said. To date, 76 million COVID-19 cases and 1.4 million deaths have been reported in the WHO European Region.