UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education Health Education, Prevention, Health Promotion, Children and Young People

Coronavirus: what we know about the risk of reopening schools – and how best to limit it

Across the world, over 1.5 billion children and young people were deprived of school during the first phase of the pandemic. We know this has had a negative effect on learning. And research carried out in England has shown that children in deprived areas have fallen furthest behind.

We know too that physical attendance at school has health benefits. Time spent with friends during adolescence helps brain development. Compulsory physical activity can protect against future chronic illnesses. And many young people benefit from school-based services such as free lunches and sanitary products.

Young people clearly benefit from being in school. But as many countries reopen, do the benefits of sending our children back outweigh the risks, and if so, what are the conditions of a safe return?

In the article published today in The Conversation, Didier Jourdan, Nicola Gray and Michael Marmot review the available data on the risks of returning to school and argue that the best means of mitigating them are locally driven control measures, based on national guidance.

Read the article.