COVID 19 RECOMMENDATIONS ON SCHOOL REOPENING BY PWANI GBV NETWORK
Disruptions to instructional time in the classroom can have a severe impact on a child’s ability to learn. The longer marginalized children are out of school, the less likely they are to return. Children from the poorest households are already almost five times more likely to be out of primary school than those from the richest.
Being out of school also increases the risk of teenage pregnancy, sexual exploitation, child marriage, violence and other threats. Further, prolonged closures disrupt essential school-based services such as immunization, school feeding, and mental health and psychosocial support, and can cause stress and anxiety due to the loss of peer interaction and disrupted routines.
Pwani GBV Network and her members are guided by the following key critical questions when making recommendations to the Task Force on School Reopening In Kenya:
- Are there protection-related risks related to children not attending school, such as increased risk of domestic violence or sexual exploitation against girls and boys?
- Do school closures compromise other support services provided by schools, such as school health and nutrition activities?
- What are the community-related risk factors considering epidemiological factors, public health and healthcare capacities, population density and adherence to social distancing and good hygiene practices?
Priority Consideration If Gvernment must re-open schools
- Establish elaborate measures to guarantee children from contacting COVID 19
- Increase provision of mental health and psychosocial support services that address stigmatization/discrimination and support children and their families in coping with the continued uncertainties of the pandemic.
- Ensure awareness of other care services, including referral to services for GBV/PSEA and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.
- Where services are not available at school, strengthen referral systems, including for SHR services that are youth-friendly and fully accessible
- Re-establish regular and safe delivery of essential services. This includes, but is not limited to, critical nutrition, WASH and health services such as school feeding, vaccination campaigns, protection referrals (MHPSS, gender-based violence, abuse, etc.) and specialized services for children with disabilities
- Public health information and communication should be available in multiple, accessible formats, including for those with auditory or visual impairments. Modifications should be made to ensure water, hygiene and sanitation services are accessible. Plan for continuity of assistive services if schools are reclosed
- Increase Resource allocation for implementation of Kenya National School Health Policy and Guidelines