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Schools cannot wait for Covid vaccines says WHO Chief.

All children may not be able to wear a mask, but schools can’t wait till covid vaccines arrive, WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan told. However, classes can be held outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms to reduce transmission. The prolonged closure of schools now presents a risk to children’s education, protection, health, nutrition, and wellbeing. These risks are far greater compared to the risk of infection. Most children manage to beat Covid-19 without many symptoms. When they stay away from school they miss out on more than learning to read, write and count. Further WHO added, besides education, schools provide nutrition, health and hygiene services, mental health, and psychosocial support. It reduces the risk of violence, child labor, child marriage, early pregnancy, and more. 

Sadly, the most vulnerable children are the hardest hit by school closures as they have weak access to the internet and poor support systems. The longer they are out of school, the less likely they are to return. Policies for childhood vaccination are formulated, but schools don’t have to wait for that. Schools must follow pandemic protocols to reduce the transmission of all infectious diseases. It is a good time to check the vaccination records of all school students in the state to ensure. They have taken the vaccines and booster doses prescribed under the universal vaccination program for diseases such as polio, TB, measles, and mumps. 

WHO has recommended use of masks for those above 6 years beside covid vaccines.  

WHO has recommended the use of masks for those above 6 years, but it depends on multiple factors. Some younger children may be comfortable wearing a mask, but children with disabilities and developmental disorders may not be. Schools and teachers can look at a variety of options such as moving outdoors or to a well-ventilated room for classes, reducing the number of students, and working hours. Who also recommends masks for indoor settings where students can not maintain a one-meter distance.  

Children who are in good health can wear non-medical or fabric masks that cover the nose, mouth, and chin. All adults on campus must wear masks. Further WHO says, Children with underlying health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cancer or immunosuppression, should, in consultation with their doctors, wear a medical mask. Children below five years will require adult supervision while wearing masks. Schools should remove masks and social distancing norms enforced when children engage in physical activities. 

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