30 December 2021

COVID-19 and the holidays: How to reduce your risk

Planning a trip or end-of-year celebration? For many people, this time of year is associated with gatherings of family and friends, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the new Omicron variant raise many questions on how to stay safe. Whatever you have planned for the coming weeks, we hope these tips help you and your family enjoy a healthy…, Be risk aware, The level of risk depends greatly on where you live. Follow guidance from your local authorities and stay informed about COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates in your area. In places with low rates of COVID-19 transmission and high rates of vaccination, there is less risk for fully vaccinated people, but unvaccinated people, including…, Get vaccinated, WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and have been shown to be highly effective at protecting against severe illness and death from COVID-19. The vaccines also help to protect those around you. No vaccine offers 100 per cent protection though, so it is important to continue taking precautions to protect yourself and others even once vaccinated…, If you are feeling ill, stay home, Do not attend or host gatherings if you or someone in your family is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19. Stay home, seek medical advice and help stop the spread of COVID-19.  , Consider any travel plans carefully, All travel comes with some risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Before you travel, check if COVID-19 is spreading in your local area and in any of the places you are going. Do not travel if you or your family are sick, have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Unvaccinated family members who are…, Take precautions while in public , Here are some of the key precautions you and your family can take when outside: Avoid crowded places, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, and try to practice physical distancing from people in public, keeping at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others Wear masks when in public places where COVID-19 is widespread and…, Avoid large gatherings, Crowded, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation and mass gatherings such as concerts, events and parties can be especially risky. If possible, outdoor gatherings are safer. If you are planning a get together with friends and family from different households, consider taking extra precautions before you meet, such as taking a COVID-19…, Consider the needs of your loved ones, The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for everyone and many people will be worried about being around groups of people, even their loved ones. If possible, try reaching out to your friends and relatives before meeting to see how they are doing and to talk about any concerns. Consider postponing any visits to unvaccinated family members or…
28 December 2021

What we know about the Omicron variant

People around the world are concerned about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. We’ve gathered the latest expert information about this new variant and will continue to update this article as more information becomes available. For more tips and information on COVID-19, see our  COVID-19 guide . Last updated: 17 December 2021 Jump to:   What is the…, What is the Omicron variant? , The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on the evidence that it has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves. There is still substantial uncertainty regarding Omicron and a lot of research underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk., How did the Omicron variant develop? , When a virus is circulating widely and causing numerous infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more opportunities it has to undergo changes. New variants like Omicron are a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It is therefore essential that people get the…, Where is the Omicron variant present? , The Omicron variant has now been detected in many countries around the world. WHO reports that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn’t been detected yet., Is the Omicron variant more severe than other COVID-19 variants? , Early findings suggest that Omicron might be less severe than the Delta variant, but more data is needed and WHO warns that it should not be dismissed as “mild”. Studies are ongoing and this information will be updated as it becomes available.  It is important to remember that all variants of COVID-19 can cause severe disease or death, including…, Is the Omicron variant more contagious? , Omicron is spreading more quickly than other variants. Based on the information available, WHO believes it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where there is COVID-19 transmission in the community.  However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a…, Does the Omicron variant cause different symptoms?  , There is no information to suggest that Omicron causes different COVID-19 symptoms from other COVID-19 variants., Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective against the Omicron variant?  , Researchers are looking into any potential impact the Omicron variant has on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Information is still limited, but there may be a small reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines against severe illness and death, and a decline in preventing mild disease and infection. However, WHO reports that so far it looks…, Is a prior COVID-19 infection effective against the Omicron variant?, WHO reports that early evidence suggests that previous infection could offer less protection against Omicron in comparison to other variants of concern, such as Delta. Information is still limited though and we will share updates as it becomes available. You should get vaccinated even if you’ve previously had COVID-19. While people who recover…, Do current COVID-19 tests detect the Omicron variant? , The widely used PCR and antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests continue to detect infection of COVID-19, including Omicron., Are children more likely to contract the Omicron variant? , Research is ongoing into Omicron’s transmissibility and we will update as more information becomes available. However, people who are mixing socially and those who are unvaccinated are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19., How can I protect myself and my family against the Omicron variant?, The most important thing you can do is reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. To protect yourself and your loved ones, make sure to:  Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Make sure that your hands are clean when you put on and remove your mask. Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others.  Avoid poorly ventilated or…, How can I talk to my child about the Omicron and other COVID-19 variants?, News about COVID-19 and now the Omicron variant is flooding our daily lives and it is only natural that curious young children will have questions – lots of them. Here are some pointers to keep in mind tips for helping to explain what can be a complicated topic in simple and reassuring terms.  Children have a right to know what is going on, but it…
20 September 2021

Ten mental health and well-being tips for teachers

As schools reopen, it is important to prioritise and commit to taking care of your mental health and well-being – this helps you to have more positive energy for yourself, your students and their families. Here are 10 tips on how you can do it!  , Set aside time to unwind, Think about what helps lift your mood and gets you through stress – whether it is playing with your children, going for a walk, talking to your friends, taking care of your plants, reading a book or cooking a new recipe. Keep some space to relax. These activities are as important as your working hours. It’s about allowing yourself to feel…, Plan ahead, As schools reopen, there could be a million things on your mind on how to engage with students and help them with the transition. Make a list of all your tasks and activities for the day or week early on. Use a day planner or notebook to plan your week. Set small goals and take appropriate breaks. It will help you plan your time better and…, Set boundaries, The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased stress levels in the lives of many teachers with a new way of teaching, personal health and family issues. Whether you are teaching online or in the classroom, you are continually taking care of students’ needs throughout the day. Make sure to set boundaries to have ‘me’ time, be with family, or…, Get vaccinated, Get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Getting vaccinated will protect you from severe COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and death and can alleviate the safety concerns of being back in schools. It will also protect your family, your students and their families. You will be required to keep taking precautions after vaccination, but feeling safer…, Adjust your expectations, This is a period of adjustment for everyone and keeps things in perspective. You can only control certain things and circumstances during the transition period in your classroom. Don’t pressurise yourself to provide the same learning experiences as the pre-lockdown period. You are one single professional and doing your best to adapt to change. As…, Acquire new skills and appreciate the ones you already have, Teachers, across the globe, were largely unprepared to support the continuity of learning mostly because of limited digital skills. Acquiring and mastering new skills will help you in the professional journey and will provide greater confidence and comfort in work. You can sign up for online courses, virtual workshops, webinars, or watch videos to…, Be kind to yourself, If you are feeling overwhelmed, share your feelings with another teacher, friend or family member. Having a conversation with your supervisor or senior school leader will help them understand you and offer support. Remember, a healthy relationship will have a positive influence on the children you are teaching.  , Stay socially connected, You can keep yourself physically apart to limit the spread of the virus, but it is important that you stay emotionally and socially connected with your friends, family and colleagues. Celebrate happy occasions over video calls, engage in virtual working groups or join online book clubs. When seeing others, prefer outdoor activities, and use masks…, Get your body moving, Physical activity is proven to be a powerful fighter to navigate stress and anxiety. With regular exercise, you can feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories and feel more relaxed and positive about yourself. Even a short 10 minutes of brisk walking boosts our mood and can give an enormous sense of well-…, Seek mental health support if needed, Take care of your mental health and well-being and seek mental health support if you have signs of depression, anxiety, and burnout. Feeling tired and unhappy is not the same as being depressed. The major signs of depression, anxiety, burnout, and other mental health problems that need specialised mental health attention include fatigue and sleep…
20 September 2021

Back to school

As we prepare to send our children back to school, we all have questions about how best to protect them from COVID-19. The impact of school closures on a child’s wellbeing is significant. Where possible, it’s important that children have an opportunity to socialize with their peers, to learn and to develop emotionally. Research to date shows that…, 1. Should I send my child to school this year?, The short answer is, whenever open, yes. School closures have been shown to negatively impact child health and wellbeing, as well as their learning. The risk to children when returning to in-person school – even with new variants – is low when the school, staff and teachers follow COVID-19 recommended precautions and where safety protocols around…, 2. How do I prepare my child for school?, Remind your child about all the fun and exciting things the back-to-school will bring, such as the time with their friends and their teachers, their routine and activities. Talk about the best ways to stay safe against COVID-19, including by keeping their hands clean, practicing physical distancing and covering their mouths and noses if they cough…, 3. What if my child is nervous to go back to school?, Children may be experiencing anxiety with the prospect of returning to school. Keep an eye out for signs of stress and encourage your child to talk openly about their concerns. Reassure them that the school is doing its best to protect everyone from COVID-19 and we all can do our part. Remember to be honest and understanding about their feelings.…, 4. What if my child is sick?, If your child is showing any signs of illness, such as a fever, stuffy nose, sore throat, or a cough, it is best not to send them to school. Follow your school policy and seek medical advice if necessary. On the other hand, if your child has had contact with a person infected with COVID-19, make sure to keep him/her at home following local public…, 5. Should I be taking any extra precautions, including when my child is back home from school?, Schools should be prepared to be a safe place for children and their families. Ask your child or the teacher to keep you informed about activities that may put them in close contact with others. In general, if schools are implementing the recommended safety measures, you should not be concerned about their return to home. However, if you or anyone…, 6. What if my child becomes sick at school?, If your child shows COVID-19 symptoms at school, the teacher or school staff must act quickly. Parents should be contacted immediately to evaluate the actions to be taken according to the guidelines of the local health authorities. Get in contact with your child’s doctor to evaluate the need to perform a COVID-19 test and keep the school informed…, 7. What if my child’s classmate or teacher gets sick at school?, If the school informs you that your child’s classmate or teacher tested positive for COVID-19, monitor your child’s symptoms and follow the self-isolation recommendations from your local health authorities. Seek medical care if your child shows COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, or tiredness. Keep in touch with the school to receive…, 8. Can children with asthma, obesity, diabetes and other health conditions go back to school?, The answer depends on the current condition of the child, the situation of COVID-19 in their community and the safety measures implemented by the school. Make sure the school is implementing safety protocols that include handwashing, distancing and ventilation. Although, in most cases, children are asymptomatic or develop mild symptoms when they…
15 June 2021

What you need to know before, during and after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine

Millions of people around the world have now been safely vaccinated against COVID-19, bringing us all one step closer to getting back to doing more of the things we enjoy with the people we love. For many the COVID-19 vaccines couldn’t come fast enough, but others understandably have questions about the vaccination process and what to expect when…, Before you go, Do your research. There’s a lot of misinformation about vaccines online, so it’s important to always get your information from trustworthy sources like UNICEF and WHO. If you have any questions about whether you should receive a COVID-19 vaccine, speak to your doctor. At present, people with the following health conditions should not receive a…, During the appointment, Stay safe. Make sure to follow safety precautions at the vaccination facility such as physical distancing while waiting and wearing a mask. Communicate. Let the health care professional know if you have any medical conditions that could be considered precautions, such as pregnancy or a compromised immune system. Keep your records. You should…, After you’ve been vaccinated, Stay for monitoring. The health care provider should observe you for about 15 minutes after the vaccine is administered to make sure you don’t have any immediate reactions. However, it is extremely rare for severe health reactions. Be prepared for some side effects. Vaccines are designed to give you immunity without the dangers of getting the…, Join our campaign!, Help spread the word that vaccines are safe and effective. This article was originally published on 23 April 2021 and will continue to be updated to reflect the latest information.