Ministry of Education, Health Promotion Bureau and UNICEF Launch ‘COVID-19: New Lessons for the New Term’ Media Campaign with Support from United States.

19 August 2020
Handing washing in schools
UNICEF Sri Lanka
Handing washing in schools

19 August 2020, Colombo, Sri Lanka: A new national media campaign is asking children and parents to follow seven new and essential ‘lessons’ to limit the risk and spread of COVID-19, as schools reopen across Sri Lanka following months of closure.  

Launched by the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) of the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services (MoH) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with funding from the United States, the national campaign – titled ‘COVID-19: New Lessons in the New Term’ – engages children, parents and caregivers, with information to manage the risk of COVID-19, and eliminate the stigma faced by individuals impacted by COVID-19 by encouraging them to undertake key actions before, during, and after school.  The advice includes;  

  1. Always keep at least one-meter distance from each other.

  2. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after engaging in any activity.

  3. Cover your nose and mouth with a face mask when outside the classroom.

  1. Sneeze or cough into your bent elbow or use a tissue and ensure that you dispose of the used tissue into a bin with lid immediately and wash your hands with soap.

  2. Keep all surfaces clean and sanitized regularly.

  3. If you or your child is  experiencing fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath, stay at home and consult a doctor.

  1. Do not discriminate against anyone because of the coronavirus. Let's be kind and support each other to stay safe.


The new campaign features two TV advertisements, in-class posters, stickers for school buses, sign boards at the entrance to schools and radio advertisements in national languages. To ensure that the messages resonate with a wide audience, the advertisements also feature a repurposed musical theme of a popular, traditional poem ‘Guru Sitha Noridhava’. Launched to coincide with the reopening of schools on 10 August 2020, the campaign will run through to the end of August 2020. 

 “We congratulate Sri Lanka for its effective response to COVID-19, which has placed it in the impressive  position of being among the first countries in South Asia to open schools and bring children back in a safe way” said Mr. Tim Sutton, Representative, UNICEF Sri Lanka, adding “While education continued during school closures, we know that the  best place for children to learn - especially the most vulnerable  -  is with their teachers and friends in a positive, safe school environment. However, the risk of COVID-19 remains. That’s why our message is simple - follow these ‘7 new lessons’ from the new campaign, and we can limit the risk of COVID-19 for children, teachers, parents and communities, and get back to learning.” 

I’m delighted the United States is helping to ensure the well-being of young Sri Lankans,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz.  “As students return to school, the United States is working to eliminate the risks associated with COVID-19 by educating communities on good health practices.  Everyone deserves a safe learning environment.” The U.S. funding is provided through U.S. Government's development agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

The ‘COVID-19: New Lessons in the New Term’ campaign is the latest phase in UNICEF’s ongoing support to the Government of Sri Lanka in response to COVID-19, that has also seen UNICEF procure essential medical items, support the development of safe school operations  guidelines, promoting WASH facilities and hygiene practices in schools, the development of learning materials  for home-based learning, support for ‘catch up’ education, and provide expertise in the areas of health, nutrition, education, child protection, social policy and communications. UNICEF will continue to work closely with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people across the country during and after the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

Watch the two TV advertisements 

1.       ‘COVID-19: New Lessons for the New Term’ in Sinhala and Tamil 

2.       ‘Back to School: Motivation’ in Sinhala and Tamil 


Media contacts

Jeremy Sprigge
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 77 723 6548
Suzanne Wooster-Prematilaka
Communication Officer
UNICEF Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 77 316 5378

Additional resources

About UNICEF Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lanka, visit


USAID is the development agency of the United States Government. USAID has been providing development and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more 50 years. The U.S. Government has invested over $2 billion to benefit the people of Sri Lanka since 1956.