Image: AP/ Shutterstock
As the concerns over regular classes of students are rising amid the surge in COVID-19 cases and Omicron spread, UNICEF on Friday stated that "nationwide school closures should be avoided whenever possible". In spite of the surge of new highly mutated COVID-19 variant Omicron across the world, the UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore argued, “When COVID-19 community transmission increases and stringent public health measures become a necessity, schools must be the last places to close and the first to re-open."
According to a UN report, Omicron is progressively fueling the new instances which are concerning the public health authorities and scientists who are working and analysing to understand the new variant. Due to this, many nations are debating whether or not to keep schools open in the face of mounting uncertainty. However, pointing to the debate, Fore stated that another round of widespread school closures would be devastating for children.
COVID-19 cases are again spiking all over the world, fueled, increasingly, by Omicron, a new variant of concern.— Henrietta H. Fore (@unicefchief) December 17, 2021
Amid rising uncertainty, many governments are weighing whether to keep schools open. https://t.co/sbNlamCjyY
Fore went on to say that more widespread schools' closure would have major ramifications, leading to restricted resources for students, educators, and parents with a lack of access to remote learning. She further claimed that these closures have obliterated decades of educational progress and made childhood unrecognisable, further rooting child labour, child marriage, and mental health disorders
“Beyond lost learning, children have also lost the safety of school, daily in-person interactions with friends, access to healthcare, and, too often, their only nutritious meal of the day. This generation of schoolchildren could collectively lose US$ 17 trillion in potential lifetime earnings," the UNICEF chief said.
Stressing that "mitigation measures in schools are effective", Fore said officials "must use this knowledge to do everything" to maintain the opening of schools, adding that otherwise, this generation of students might lose a total of $17 trillion in possible lifetime earnings. Moreover UNICEF emphasised that member states must also expand investments in digital connection to ensure that no kid is left behind. "2022 cannot be another year of disrupted learning," she noted. She further urged that it has to be the year in which education and the best interests of children must come first.
(Image: AP/ Shutterstock)