UNICEF calls for national solidarity to keep schools safe and open – the Republic of North Macedonia

SKOPJE, January 26, 2022: UNICEF is encouraged by the recommendation of the Infectious Diseases Commission to open schools for in-person learning on February 1 and calls for national solidarity to keep schools safe and open throughout the school year. Any prolonged national school closures will further aggravate learning losses and continue to negatively impact the emotional well-being of children.

“The decision to reopen schools for in-person learning is a government decision. We recognize that these are considered in the context of the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 and the evolving understanding of the risks. However, they must also consider the impact of prolonged school closures on children’s learning and well-being,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative. “Schools are an essential public service, a place of academic learning and essential in helping children reach their potential. Closing schools for in-person learning due to increased community transmission of COVID19 should not be the first response, but should only be considered when there are no other alternatives.

Distance learning is an alternative measure but should only be used as a last resort. Moreover, while online and digital technologies enhance the learning experience, they cannot replace the methods used by the teacher during face-to-face learning or long-term peer-to-peer interaction. Research with school management, teachers and parents has shown that although the distance education helped children continue to learn, more than half of all teachers saw an increase in the number of students who struggled or failed to acquire what they were learning.

In addition to learning loss, school closures have negatively impacted children’s mental health, reduced their access to other services provided by schools, and increased their risk of violence. With risk mitigation measures in place, schools have proven to be safe environments for children and not the primary driver of community transmission.

We are nearing the end of the second year of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the disruptions in education have outlasted the restrictions imposed on other sectors of the country. UNICEF calls for national solidarity with children to keep schools safe and open. Governments – national and local – must step up their support so that schools have the resources they need to continue applying proven prevention measures, rebuild lost learning and introduce new programs to support mental health and well-being. to be children.

UNICEF is also calling on society to do its part to reduce the transmission of the virus in the community. “We all need to be more vigilant and disciplined to follow prevention measures to keep COVID19 out of schools. We must continue to be responsible, wear a mask, practice hand hygiene, physical distance, get vaccinated against COVID-19 if we qualify and if we have symptoms, get tested and isolate ourselves,” a said Patrizia DiGiovanni. “2022 must be the year when the best interests of children and education are a national priority and come first.”

Media contacts

Suzie Pappas Capovska

Communication Manager

UNICEF North Macedonia

Tel: +389 (0) 72 236 725

Email: [email protected]

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