Here are the key principles to keep in mind when reopening a school safely:
- An integrated approach: COVID-19 has a multifaceted impact on children’s rights, impacting education, protection, MHPSS, health, nutrition, and more. As schools prepare for reopening, a coordinated and integrated approach is critical to addressing children’s holistic needs.
- Child & youth participation: Children have a right to be heard in processes that impact them and should be considered full-fledged actors in decision-making. Child participation should be inclusive and accessible to all children. Young people can play a key role in community mobilization and in the dissemination of accurate information.
- Whole school community: Engage the whole school community – including children, caregivers, teachers, school administration, community, and local government – in an inclusive and accessible way at all stages of the school re-opening process.
- Build on existing structures: School communities should capitalize on their many existing capacities during the school reopening process. These may be existing children’s clubs, student councils, PTAs, youth-led groups, child protection committees, or family networks.
- Build back resilient: The school reopening process provides an opportunity to strengthen existing education, health, protection, and disaster preparedness systems, making them more accessible, inclusive, participatory, and protective. By applying lessons learned from COVID-19, governments and whole school communities can better prepare themselves and reduce risks of future crises related to health, natural, and everyday hazards, violence, and conflict.