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

30 September 2021 – Strategies for school health promotion during COVID-19

SHE and UNESCO Chair Webinar Series

30 September 2021


Nicola Gray, Affiliated researcher, UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education; Senior Lecturer, University of Huddersfield, UK

Veronica Velasco, Assistant professor, Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy


Goof Buijs, manager UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education



The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted schools all over the world. Schools in many countries closed in haste and had to create virtual learning opportunities for their students. The reopening of schools is taking place in various speeds and with different guidance at national and/or local level.

The UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education gathered the experiences and opinions of education and health professionals about  reopening schools safely and/or to keeping them open. The survey explored the public health measures that have been put in place in schools; communication of guidance at national and/or local level, and the facilitators or barriers to safe reopening. Nicola Gray will provide a preview of the results of this survey on the safe reopening of schools during COVID-19. 

The WHO-Europe Technical Advisory Group for schooling during COVID-19 recommends that ‘the principles of health-promoting schools (HPS) are even more important in a pandemic’. This statement highlights the link between health and education and the importance of implementing the HPS approach during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, moving from recognition of HPS values to putting these into practice is challenging. Veronica Velasco wrote a new document on School Health Promotion during COVID-19 for the Schools for Health in Europe network (SHE). The relevance of the HPS approach during the COVID-19 pandemic will be discussed and some implementation strategies based on the HPS approach will be presented.

Our speakers’ contributions

During this webinar the experts explored the following questions:

  • What are the experiences of education and health professionals around the world concerning the safe reopening of schools? The presentation of Veronica Velasco
  • Why is the HPS approach  relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic and how can HPS be implemented? The presentation of Nicola Gray
  • What can we learn to better prepare schools for future epidemics and disasters? By Veronica Velasco and Nicola Gray

The recording of the webinar.

Participants’ contributions

My background is:

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, where 1 is no collaboration and 5 is excellent collaboration, how would you rate the collaboration between health professionals and education professionals when trying to reopen schools in your area?

Since the COVID crisis health promotion activities in schools in my country / region have:

The participants’ questions and comments


Gray, N.J. and Jourdan, D. (2021). Co-operation and consistency: a global survey of professionals involved in reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/HE-07-2020-0054

Schooling during COVID-19: recommendations from the European Technical Advisory Group for schooling during COVID-19, March 2021. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2021

SHE website: Materials to use in the time of COVID-19 

UNESCO Chair website: COVID-19 related resources

Velasco, V. (2021). Health-Promoting Schools in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools for Health in Europe Network Foundation (SHE), Haderslev, Denmark

Velasco, V., Coppola, L., Veneruso, M. and Lombardian HPS Coordinators (2021). COVID-19 and the Health Promoting School in Italy: Perspectives of educational leaders. Health Education Journal, First Published. https://doi.org/10.1177/00178969211049377