COVID-19 Response in Education: What actions and measures national governments must take to ensure safe home distance learning for schoolchildren, students, and young people
National governments in response to COVID-19 effects in education must holistically plan the actions and measures to take to ensure safe home distance learning for schoolchildren, students, and young people in their respective countries.
National governments must take responsibility for safe home distance learning
Different levels of national government – federal, state, and local governments of nations hit by COVID-19 pandemic must take responsibility for ensuring schoolchildren and students have safe home distance learning just like the way of regulating their nation’s education system.
It is important that all school children and students participate actively in home distance learning in an inclusive arrangement, regardless of their locations, access to the internet, socio-economic background and the type of distance learning they engage in to bridge the knowledge gap created by long absence from traditional in-person school classroom learning.
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How national governments can ensure safe home distance learning
Sharing public health messages about COVID-19
There are some ways national governments can ensure safe home distance learning. One of them is sharing public health messages about COVID-19, including its means and mode of infection, symptoms, and how to prevent transmission of the infection.
Enforcing stay-at-home and WASH directive for children, students, and young people
National governments should enforce stay-at-home and handwashing and sanitation hygiene (WASH) directives for children, students, and young people so that they can stay at home and wash their hands regularly while maintaining personal hygiene and adhering to WHO/CDC COVID-19 public health guidelines.
Safeguarding the health, safety, and security of learners accessing home distance learning
National governments should protect school children and students from the disadvantages of internet-enabled online study by safeguarding the health, safety, and security of learners accessing home distance learning.
It is recommended that the available children’s learning packages should feature continuous child-friendly messaging using infographics, cartoons, animations, and so on that show how the children can protect themselves.
The impact of COVID-19 on traditional in-person classroom learning means that more learners are online, which leaves them vulnerable to risky online behaviour, cyber-bullying, sexual exploitation, and other cyber threats that threaten the health, safety, and security of learners accessing home distance learning.
Provision of training and learning materials
National governments through the ministry or department of education should conduct online training that not only prepares teachers and educators to teach in a way that safeguards the health, safety, and security of all categories learners but also enables 21st-century quality education with ICT-based pedagogy.
They should also provide learners with printed materials, online learning access through mobile phones and computers, and through radio, or TV programs.
No one expects the national governments to act alone in taking these actions and measures. All responsible agencies and ministries of the national governments at all levels need to work collaboratively among themselves and with the national CDC and WHO agencies. The national governments are also expected to partner with other bodies such as civil society organizations; international development partners and donors; private organizations, including internet providers; television and radio stations, parents, guardians, caregivers, and communities.