Countries around the world are taking broad public health and social measures (PHSM), including closure of schools, to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.1 This Annex examines considerations for school operations, including openings, closures and re-openings and the measures needed to minimize the risk to students and staff of COVID-19. This Annex applies to educational settings for children under the age of 18 years and outlines general principles and key recommendations that can be tailored not only to schools but to specific school-related contexts, such as extracurricular activities.
This Annex replaces a document published by the World Health Organization on 10 May 2020 entitled Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19. 2 This document was developed with input from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of Experts on Educational Institutions and COVID-19 and experts from WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO, who jointly reviewed the latest evidence to develop this interim guidance, which considers equity, resource implications, and feasibility. The main changes introduced in this document are a risk-based approach for school operations in the context of COVID-19 based on the level and intensity of the transmission at administrative levels lower than the national level, age-appropriate considerations for both physical distancing and the use of masks in the school setting and comprehensive, multi-layered measures to prevent introduction and spread of SARS-COV-2 in educational setting.
This Annex is intended to help policy makers and educators with making decisions on running schools as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the forefront of all considerations and decisions should be the continuity of education for children for their overall well-being, health and safety. Nonetheless, all decisions will have implications for children, parents or caregivers, teachers and other staff and more broadly, their communities and societies.3
Readers may also wish to refer to WHO-issued guidance on adapting PHSM as the epidemiology of COVID-19 evolves, while managing the risk of resurgence of cases. 3