UNICEF Australia supports a return to school amidst Omicron wave

Teacher using hand sanitizer with kids going back to school

IN a win for advancing children’s learning, and physical and mental wellbeing, UNICEF Australia has welcomed the decision by the New South Wales and Victorian state governments for a united and consistent approach to students returning to school for Term 1.

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working to protect and improve the lives of every child in over 190 countries, including Australia, and believes children have the right to equal access to education and the reopening of schools for Term 1 is the right decision.

“Children have suffered from school closures during the pandemic and it is essential that we continue to strive to keep schools open, by taking proportionate, evidence-based responses to outbreaks,” UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart said.

“The pandemic is persistent and the measures we must take may not be easy, but we must not relent because the benefits to children and families of having children in school far outweighs the alternative.

“School is a foundation for wellbeing for many years into the future.

“The right to go to school and learn is central to every child’s development and wellbeing.

“This generation of children and young people cannot afford any more disruptions to their learning and the opening of schools next week for Term 1 is the right decision to get education back on track.”

Child vaccination has a major role in achieving consistently open schools and attendance of students.

To support the best educational outcomes for children in 2022, UNICEF Australia recommends utilising schools as vaccination hubs to ensure rapid and equitable access to vaccines.

They also recommend assessing learning loss and extending the NSW and Victorian Governments’ tutoring program longer-term and to other states and territories, targeting students and schools that have fallen furthest behind.

Australia made significant progress at the end of 2021 to put a circle of safety around students by vaccinating teachers and school staff, as well as many secondary school students.

UNICEF Australia is continuing to make in-roads with vaccinations being made available for primary school students.

“A successful year for schools in 2022 will require many elements to come together,” Mr Stuart said.

“We encourage families and school staff to be vaccinated, schools to have open and frequent communication with their communities, and ensure we continue the basics of COVID defence including hand washing, sanitisation and mask-wearing where possible.”

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities with another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years of experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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