Going back to school is not safe

Going back to school is not safe
Going back to school is not safe
The Policy Rationalization Center at the American University of Beirut warned against reopening schools prematurely and without any precautions, and before conducting a clear, systematic assessment of readiness to return to education in attendance, including school readiness to ensure minimum health and safety standards.“Education is important, and so is the health of our children,” he told “Al-Akhbar” director of the center, Fadi Al-Jardali, “Now is the time to reduce the transmission of infection in the community to a level that allows schools to reopen safely.” According to Al-Jardali, the center’s recommendation is based on the absence of three basic conditions that must be fulfilled before considering the reopening of schools:
– The rate of disease transmission in the community, as the numbers raise great concerns, especially with the increase in cases that cannot be traced and whose source is unknown.
A strict monitoring system, based on examinations, contact tracing, and case isolation.
The extent of the school’s willingness and ability to implement, impose and maintain prevention measures, and its ability to adhere to the main mitigation strategies, in terms of the correct use of masks, adherence to social distancing to the maximum extent, ensuring hand hygiene and respecting coughing and sneezing etiquette, continuous cleaning and sterilization, and contact tracing in cooperation with officials Local health workers.
Al-Jardali does not rely much on the health protocol prepared by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with UNICEF to reopen schools specifically, considering that “the question is not what schools should do only, but is Lebanon ready in general to reopen schools? Then we can ask other questions related to the implementation of the necessary procedures within the school environment ».
From here, “the government should begin to set transparent standards that should be achieved before the reopening of schools to create predictability and reduce the risk of politicizing any decision, and to communicate with society about these standards, especially the multiple organizations involved in the field of public health and education, including municipalities. And non-governmental organizations ». More importantly, “is clarity in the established criteria,” asking: “If a case of corona is diagnosed in the school, do the administrators, teachers and workers know what they should do? Has a comprehensive assessment of the school environment and readiness been carried out? Or planning this evaluation as part of the protocol before announcing the opening of schools? ”
Al-Jardali pointed out that coordination should not be confined to ministries, that is, the ministries of education and health only, but “local public health officials (at the district / municipality level), school administrations, parents and students should be involved, who must also be surrounded by all information and developments related to this Subject. Hence the importance of establishing a healthy communication cell between all parties to avoid creating confusion and mistrust. It is also important to present scientific evidence and evidence and the rationale for the policies and decisions taken about opening / closing schools. He explained: “We do not ask to close schools, but this stage specifically does not allow students to return to school. The situation may change after weeks or months. ”

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