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

Intersectoral working during the COVID-19 pandemic in schools

The reopening of schools required the implementation of numerous infection control measures by school staff. Faced with this great challenge, which often imposed itself within tight deadlines, one of the survey questions was on the level of collaboration between experts in health issues (school doctors, school nurses, other doctors, pharmacists, etc.) and education professionals (teachers, head teachers, support professionals).

It is interesting to note that the opinion of respondents is divided on this question (see table 4). The perception of respondents who are not working in a school is quite positive; 53% report excellent, good or fair collaboration between the professionals. On the other side, 54% of respondents working in a school report poor or no collaboration between health professionals and education professionals. Comments make clear that these two categories of professionals act separately, so that some respondents simply had not heard from healthcare professionals or mentioned that there were no medical professionals in schools. Respondents also regret decision-making processes that do not include the stakeholders in the field, resulting in rules not adapted to the school context.

Table 4 Collaboration between health professionals and education professionals

Survey respondents suggested many ways to improve intersectoral work in the future (see figure 3). Five broad categories of comments were identified: formal organization of intersectoral work; the need for clearer information and more staff (especially medical staff); the need to communicate more and to include all parties more broadly in discussions (community, parents, students), and the importance of providing more training.

Figure 3 Respondents’ suggestions about how to improve collaboration

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