UNICEF urges school authorities to have plans in place for remote learning and access to essential services
Mitigation plans are essential when schools are closed for extended periods
Jakarta, 16 March 2020 – Following recent announcements by national and local government authorities calling for children to study from home in response to COVID-19, UNICEF urges school authorities to ensure that there are plans in place for remote learning options and access to essential services for all children.
When schools are closed for extended periods, mitigation plans include online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, such as the online learning portals Rumah Belajar [https://belajar.kemdikbud.go.id/ ] and the Ruangguru Free Online School, supported by Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture.
Other strategies include:
- Assigning reading and exercises for home study
- Assigning teachers to conduct remote daily or weekly follow up with students
- Develop accelerated education strategies
“When children’s normal schooling is disrupted, it’s critical to put in place alternative learning platforms, such as internet, radio and television broadcasts, to reduce the impact of prolonged school closure on children’s wellbeing. Equally important is to maintain essential services for children, such as feeding programmes or psychosocial support – especially for the most vulnerable groups,” said UNICEF Representative Debora Comini.
Where schools remain open, safe operational guidelines should be followed to ensure that children and their families remain protected and informed.
UNICEF also urges schools – whether open or helping students through remote learning – to provide students with holistic support: schools should provide children with vital information on handwashing with soap and other measures to protect themselves and their families; facilitate mental health support; and help to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to be kind to each other and avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.
By providing practical, accurate information on how to prevent the spread of the virus, schools can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school and in their community.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued last week a new global guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance also offers helpful tips and checklists for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students themselves.
The global guidelines are available at: https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/reports/school-guidance-for-coronavirus-prevention (only available in English)
Families can stay informed about the COVID-19 situation and find answers to their questions by calling the information hotline at 119 ex 9 or from reputable online sources:
- Ministry of Health: https://www.kemkes.go.id/
- WHO: https://www.who.int/indonesia/news/novel-coronavirus
- UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/id/coronavirus
Key messages for caregivers
When schools close, children will be spending more time in the home, and good habits should be encouraged to prevent COVID-19 transmission and keep everyone healthy:
- Answer questions children may have about COVID-19, how it is transmitted, signs and symptoms, and what they do to protect themselves with simple facts presented in a calm manner. Acknowledge their feelings, which may include fear, anxiety, and confusion, especially when their routine is changing due to school closure. Talk to them about what they can to adapt to this new situation.
- Ensure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when they come home, before meals and after using the bathroom
- Wipe down frequently touched surfaces such as counters and door handles, especially in the kitchen and bathroom using regular household cleaners and following manufacturer instructions on the label
- Find alternate ways of staying connected with friends and family, especially those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 such as the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, such as by using mobile phone instead of in-person visits to connect
Key messages and actions for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prevention and control in schools
Clear and actionable guidance for safe operations through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in schools and other educational facilities.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.