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Risks to children rising

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Entornointeligente.com / Search form Search Main menu Home News Business Sports Columns Contact Us E-Paper Chairman of the UWI Task Force on COVID-19, Professor Clive Landis.

Risks to children rising Wed, 03/31/2021 – 5:00am Saying that the risks to students brought on by the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing, Chairman of the UWI Task Force on COVID-19, Professor Clive Landis, is suggesting there is a need to get students safely back to the physical classroom.

He made the comments while delivering opening remarks yesterday evening, during a virtual panel discussion entitled ‘Mind the Education Gap: Schooling in the Caribbean During COVID-19’.

Professor Landis said that there are best practices coming to the fore in countries across the region regarding ways to safely reopen schools, which can be of benefit to other countries.

“So I was very interested to see that Barbados took one approach, which is to vaccinate the teachers; that might be one approach. When I’ve sat in on committees on education in other countries, the issue of transportation comes up, so maybe there needs to be a national effort to mobilise the buses in the hospitality and tourism sector, which are all standing idle, to help children be bussed to schools in a safe way. Whatever it is, we need to find ways in which we can safely open schools,” he stated.

Landis pointed out that the Task Force is very concerned about the gaps which have opened up in the education systems in countries across the region while the schools remain closed, which are affecting children and adults. He added that absence from school and school closures have had physical, social and mental implications.

“When we balance the risk of opening and closing schools, that particular equation is not a static one.

“So we know that absence from school and school closures has effects which are cumulative on the loss of knowledge, loss of skills for children, their physical health, their mental health, the risks that they’re exposed to, and inequalities, and that risk increases with time,” he said.

Landis added, “And so that balance between opening and closing schools is now shifting all the more urgently towards opening schools, because the manifest risk to children is increasing over time”.

He made the point while stating that the focus must be on managing the safe reopening of schools. Landis indicated that schools are not in essence considered dangerous, spreading environments for the virus. Referring to a labour force survey from the United Kingdom that looked at all the professions, he noted that teachers were not at more risk than the general public to catch COVID-19. Rather, the professor said, the survey suggested that teachers are actually less likely to catch COVID-19.

Meanwhile, lauding CARICOM for making decisions regarding the virus based on science, he said this has paid off, as when compared to North America and South America on a per capita basis, the proportion of deaths in the Caribbean has been about one tenth of what has been seen in two continents.

“I think a lot of this is due to the coherence of the CARICOM approach,” he stated.

(JRT)

LINK ORIGINAL: Barbados Advocate

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