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PAHO – Children’s Education Still at Risk Due to Pandemic


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): “Today, children and teens across our region are at risk of becoming the generation that missed out on the health, education, and social opportunities that they needed to reach their fullest potential,” expressed Dr. Carissa Etienne Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

For most countries in the Caribbean, the 2021-2021 academic school year has commenced and several countries, including Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, resumed schools virtually. In contrast, St. Kitts and Nevis and Guyana opened schools for face-to-face instruction.

The nature of the pandemic has a direct impact on how education is delivered to the students of the region.

Dr. Etienne called for additional support for children, adolescents and their parents.

“Experts agree that the pandemic has triggered the worst educational crisis that we have ever seen in this region. The broad impact of the pandemic on children and adolescents cannot be ignored. And that’s why we must protect children by giving them and their caregivers the support that they need to maintain the public health measures that have been proven effective against the virus. While COVID vaccines are not yet approved for children in most countries, practising physical distancing, washing hands often, wearing masks in public, and avoid crowded places can help keep children safe from the virus. Children and teens should have tested if they develop symptoms, or if they suspect that they will seek to avoid infection of others,” said Dr. Etienne, further urging countries to include children, adolescents and parents in the discussion on how to handle the impact of the pandemic on schools.

The directors reported that although numbers in the Americas are increasing, numbers are decreasing with exceptions within the Caribbean.

“Infections have slowed in the Caribbean, although there are few notable exceptions, Grenada, Barbados and Bermuda are reporting sharp jumps in cases, and Jamaica saw its highest weekly case count since the beginning of the pandemic.”

However, the infection rates of countries and regions can change suddenly, as past pandemic trends have shown.


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