Guidance for Re-Opening of Preschools and Kindergartens post- COVID19
UNICEF is actively working with governments to support their efforts in assessing and deciding when and how to re-open preschools and kindergartens. Deciding to partially or fully reopen preschools should be guided by a risk-based approach to maximize the educational, developmental and health benefit for children, teachers, staff, and the wider community, and help prevent a new outbreak of COVID-19 in the community[i]. In a recent framework for reopening schools, UNICEF and partners highlight six key dimensions to consider when planning for re-opening: policy, financing, safe operations, learning, reaching the most marginalized and wellbeing/protection.[ii] WHO has also recently published guidance with helpful considerations for re-opening of schools in general based on careful risk assessment of epidemiological factors and health system capacities, among other issues.[iii]
Preschools and early childhood development (ECD) centers are unique in their educational approach and are among the first to be considered for re-opening. In many countries, high quality remote learning for preschoolers has not been possible, especially for marginalized groups, thus while governments can extend schooling online for older children, decision to re-open kindergartens might come before decisions to reopen primary or secondary schools. Given the role preschools serve in supporting not only children but also the ability of parents to return back to work, the loosening of lockdowns also means young children will need care urgently as their parents return to work.
This guidance note builds on prior guidance but is specific to preschools and kindergartens, as these institutions are unique in their pedagogical approach and set up specific to young children, and their dual focus on nurturing care and learning. The note outlines key overarching principles as well as practical measures that should be taken into account when re-opening of preschools and kindergartens, specifically for children three years and above[iv].
References and Endnotes:
[i] Framework for reopening schools, April 2020. https://www.unicef.org/media/68366/file/Framework-for-reopening-schools-2020.pdf
[ii] Framework for reopening schools, April 2020. https://www.unicef.org/media/68366/file/Framework-for-reopening-schools-2020.pdf
[iii] Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19, May 2020. https://www.who.int/publications-detail/considerations-for-school-related-public-health-measures-in-the-context-of-covid-19
[iv] While the principles and measures described in this guidance note are also applicable to re-opening daycare centers and creches serving children 0-3 years, these younger children require additional measures and considerations, especially in terms of balancing physical distancing with nurturing care and support.