With a school-year like no other set to start, UNICEF ramps up support to keep children safe during school reopening
BANGKOK, 30 June 2020 – As schools nationwide are about to resume on July 1, UNICEF has ramped up support to prepare for a new school-year starting amidst the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Areas of support include delivering necessary supplies and providing health and hygiene information, as well as developing safe school guidelines to assist national efforts and ensure that children are safe, healthy and protected during school reopening.
In Thailand, nearly 13 million students have been affected by school closures and the delay of the new academic year as a result of measures to control the spread of COVID-19. Across the world, UNICEF estimates that more than 1 billion schoolchildren in 130 countries remain out of their classrooms due to nationwide lockdowns.
“After months of school closure in Thailand, a school-year like no other is about to start,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “Amidst having faced and responded to unprecedented challenges, we are glad that schools are reopening and that children will be back in class again, because nothing can replace face-to-face learning with teachers and friends.”
With a majority of school children, especially children from poor families and those in remote or marginalized communities, having difficulty in accessing online learning during school closures, research has shown that prolonged school closures can cause students to regress academically, lose track of their routine and potentially increase their vulnerability to the risks of violence and exploitation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed enormous challenges to the education system and schools nationwide. At the same time, it has also offered an important reminder of the need to accelerate our efforts to strengthen education systems and ensure that every child, including the most vulnerable, has equal access to quality education with appropriate curricula and teaching practices which are responsive to their learning needs. It is time to realize what we have long dreamed of, so let’s use this crisis as an opportunity to speed up education reform, including the use of education technology, making it a reality for every child in Thailand,” Davin said.
UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, is exploring how to better invest in students, teachers and schools to promote technology-enabled learning as a force for equity. UNICEF is collaborating with UN agencies, including UNESCO and ITU, to bridge the digital divide in school connectivity as part of the global GIGA initiative and partnering with the Office of the Basic Education Commission and Thailand Cyber University to assess remote learning initiatives implemented during school closure. Ongoing work around competency-based curriculum and skills framework development has a renewed focus on supporting students in digital literacy, self-directed learning and coping with uncertainty and stress, as well as supporting teachers in adapting to their changing roles and leveraging technology to maximize student learning and development.
With generous support from the Thai public, the private sector, and in partnership with Development Partners, namely the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Japan, UNICEF has also been supporting Thailand’s national efforts to help children return to school in a safe manner.
To help curb the spread of COVID-19 in schools, UNICEF and USAID have distributed digital thermometers to 2,531 institutions, including Early Childhood Development centres and schools in Tak, Ranong and the southern border provinces. UNICEF has also worked with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Public Health to develop safe school guidelines and teacher manuals, which are being disseminated to 19,600 Early Childhood Development centres and 38,000 schools nationwide, as well as support the implementation of safe school operation.
UNICEF also disseminated vital information on health and hygiene practice for parents, teachers and children themselves via social media in order to help prepare children for school reopening and protect them while at school, including the following content:
- Video: How parents can prepare for school reopening and How teachers can help keep children safe from COVID-19
- Infographic: Tips for teachers and educational institutions to stay safe from COVID-19
- Safe school guidelines: Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools
- Learning toolkit: Teacher’s manual to organize learning activities on COVID-19
The materials highlight key messages and useful tips for parents, teachers and children during school reopening such as:
- Teach and model good hygiene to your child. Ensure that they know how to wash their hands correctly. Teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbow and avoid touching their face.
- Keep monitoring your child’s health. Encourage your child to ask questions and express their feelings with adults.
- Let your child know that it’s normal to feel frustrated or anxious at times like this. Also let teachers know if your child is facing specific challenges or heightened anxiety due to the pandemic.
For schools and teachers:
- Promote good hygiene behaviours. Share the latest information with students and parents. Help them understand prevention measures at school, including contingency plans.
- Monitor students daily physical symptoms and observe their emotional and psychological conditions.
- Prevent stigma and bullying caused by COVID-19. Remind students to be considerate of one another.
For children themselves:
- Protect yourself and others with good hygiene, including frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water, avoiding touching your face and keeping at least a 1-metre distance from others.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you have a fever or don’t feel well, tell your parents or a teacher and go to the doctor. Talk to your family and teachers if you feel worried or scared.
- Do not tease or bully anyone who has been sick. Be supportive to each other.
All materials are available at:
UNICEF Thailand Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/unicefthailand/
UNICEF Thailand Covid-19 information centre: https://www.unicef.org/thailand/th/coronavirus/covid-19
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.