WHO, UNICEF call for schools to remain open in Azerbaijan with safer measures
The new academic year gives a beam of hope for over 1.6 million students across Azerbaijan who will return to school this year, the joint statement of WHO and UNICEF said.
As children prepare to return to school with the start of the new academic year, the adoption of measures to minimize transmission becomes more vital than ever.
As WHO and UNICEF state, these measures include ensuring vaccination is accessible to teachers and other school staff, improvements to the school environments to meet safety standards such as better classroom ventilation, smaller class size, physical distancing, regular testing of staff, and constant sharing of information for parents on safety precautions.
Vaccination is one of the best and fastest ways of protection against the virus, including the Delta variant. Vaccination of teachers and other school staff is the advantage we have this year that will make the school safer.
“We live with COVID-19 pandemic almost two years and safely reopening schools has become an urgent priority. The long-term costs of closures are too high and hard to justify. We all need to work toward reopening schools safely to protect our children’s futures. WHO urges countries, including Azerbaijan to keep schools open while putting in place measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 and the spread of different variants. We are supporting our national partners in the implementation of national vaccination strategy which plays a vital role in the school re-opening,” – Dr. Hande Harmanci, WHO Representative to Azerbaijan stated.
“The pandemic has not only showed the devastating consequences school closures have on children but also proved the important role schools play in children`s education, mental health, and social skills. Children and youth cannot risk having another year of disrupted learning. UNICEF is working closely with the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan to ensure schools are opened safely on September 15 and children do not miss the opportunities school offers to them” Alex Heikens, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan, said.
UNICEF Azerbaijan currently partners with the Ministry of Education to provide targeted learning recovery support to children in ten selected districts of Azerbaijan. The program aims to provide additional teaching support for children and mentorship support to teachers to catch up with the new academic year. Mental health and psychosocial support to children and teachers will be one of the continuous priorities for both UNICEF and WHO.
UNICEF and WHO in Azerbaijan will jointly support the Ministry of Education, national health agencies for a joint #Back2School campaign with all necessary information suggested to parents, teachers, and students for a safe back to schools of all Azerbaijani children.