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Webinar Strategies for School Health Promotion during COVID-19 – 30 September 2021

Webinar Strategies for School Health Promotion during COVID-19 – 30 September 2021

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 (Affiliated researcher, UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education; Senior Lecturer, University of Huddersfield, UK) 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’. However, moving from recognition of HPS values to putting these into practice is challenging. Veronica Velasco (Assistant professor, Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy) 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 implementation strategies based on the HPS approach will be presented.

During this webinar the experts will explore the following questions:

  1. What are the experiences of education and health professionals around the world concerning the safe reopening of schools?
  2. Why is the HPS approach relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic and how can HPS be implemented?
  3. What can we learn to better prepare schools for future epidemics and disasters?

This webinar is organised by the Schools for Health in Europe Network Foundation (SHE), the UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education, the University of Huddersfield and the University of Milano-Bicocca.

The webinar will take place on 30 September 2021 from 14.00 – 15.00 CEST.

Join the webinar. This webinar will also be broadcasted live on our YouTube channel.

More information

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Involve children and young people in assessing the impact of school closures on their wellbeing and developing strategies for post-COVID-19 schooling

Involve children and young people in assessing the impact of school closures on their wellbeing and developing strategies for post-COVID-19 schooling

Article published in MDPI on 5 September 2021

Nearly 200 countries have implemented school closures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Although these closures have seemed necessary, there have been serious concerns about their effects on the well-being of children and adolescents. To truly understand the impact of these closures on children’s and adolescent’s well-being, and their suggestions for the future, it is important to adopt new approaches to collecting data that will ensure the right of children and adolescents to be heard on issues that affect them.

Current methods of assessing the impacts of school closure are dominated by the collection of information about children and adolescents, mainly using existing wellbeing indicators and related questionnaire surveys. While these sources of information are important, they provide only a limited understanding of how children and adolescents have experienced school closure, especially if they have been produced using measures developed solely by adults. There is a need for information produced by children and adolescents themselves, which may need to go beyond existing theoretical frameworks of wellbeing that predate COVID-19.

By gathering information from children and adolescents, the authors of this paper[1] show that we can more effectively guide the development and evaluation of public health policies and identify solutions to mitigate the negative impacts of school closures, or to recognise and respond to any positive effects.

Read the article

[1] Paakkari, L., Jourdan, D., Inchley, J., & Torppa, M. (2021). The Impact of School Closure on Adolescents’ Wellbeing, and Steps toward to a New Normal : The Need for an Assessment Tool Update? Adolescents1(3), 360‑362. https://doi.org/10.3390/adolescents1030027

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Cost-effectiveness and return on investment of school-based health promotion programmes for chronic disease prevention

Cost-effectiveness and return on investment of school-based health promotion programmes for chronic disease prevention

Although school-based health prevention programmes are effective in promoting healthy eating and physical activity, little is known about their economic impact. An economic evaluation of programmes identified as feasible, acceptable and sustainable in the Canadian context has been published in the European Journal of Public Health.

This study is based on a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of school-based health promotion programmes. A micro-simulation model integrated the effects of intervention on multiple risk factors to estimate the cost-effectiveness and ‘return on investment’ of comprehensive school health programmes, combining multiple approaches and those based on a modification of physical education programmes.

While each type of intervention studied was found to be economically beneficial, comprehensive school health promotion programmes were found to be the most cost-effective and had the highest return on investment.

Reference: John P Ekwaru, Arto Ohinmaa, Julia Dabravolskaj, Katerina Maximova, Paul J Veugelers, Cost-effectiveness and return on investment of school-based health promotion programmes for chronic disease prevention, European Journal of Public Health, 2021;, ckab130, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckab130

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Schools for healthy lives, not for corporate interests

Schools for healthy lives, not for corporate interests

ublished by the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health in May 2021

This correspondence was recently published by The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health[1] in response to the Viewpoint: Supporting every school to become a foundation for healthy lives[2], by Prof. Didier Jourdan and colleagues.

The authors welcome the call by Didier Jourdan and colleagues for schools to become a foundation for healthy lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has focused the world’s attention on the institutions that influence health, including schools. The pandemic has exposed and deepened the long-standing and inequitable ways in which wider social conditions can undermine public health. Achieving a healthier and fairer future depends on social determinants that promote the health of all people. Schools and education are intricately linked to health, equity, and life opportunities. They echo the view of Didier Jourdan and colleagues that health professionals have an important role in supporting educational institutions to promote health and in advocating for structural change in the interests of children and adolescents.

Read the whole correspondence

Read the article by Didier Jourdan and colleagues


[1] van Schalkwyk, M.C.I., Knai, C., Jackson, N., Maani, N. & Petticrew, M. (2021). Schools for healthy lives, not for corporate interests. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(21)00097-3

[2] Jourdan, D., Gray, N. J., Barry, M. M., Caffe, S., Cornu, C., Diagne, F., El Hage, F., Farmer, M. Y., Slade, S., Marmot, M., & Sawyer, S. M. (2021). Supporting every school to become a foundation for healthy lives. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30316-3

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Participate in the second survey on the safe reopening of schools

Participate in the second survey on the safe reopening of schools

You are invited to complete the second survey on the safe reopening of schools and to share the survey within your network. The aim of the survey is to gather the experiences and opinions of education and health professionals about the processes in place in their countries and territories to reopen schools safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to keep them open.

We want to continue to form a bridge between the scientific data and the needs of people who are implementing national guidance and feeling the impact of the ongoing pandemic in schools and the surrounding communities. It will reflect on intersectoral working to date, and recommendations for moving forward.

The survey explores 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. The survey should take 10-20 minutes to complete. It is a follow-up of the survey which was conducted in May/June 2020.

The survey is conducted by the UNESCO Chair and WHO Collaborating Center in Global Health & Education with the support of its consortium partners from ASCD, CHAIN, Education InternationalEUPHA Child and Adolescent Public Health, EUPHA Health PromotionGCU London, IAAH and their Young Professionals’ Network, IUHPE, NCD Child, UCA and the SHE Network.

More information and access to the survey link

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The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health – Podcast

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health – Podcast

In Conversation With… Didier Jourdan & Nicola Gray

Didier Jourdan & Nicola Gray join The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Editor-in-chief Jane Godsland to discuss how and why child health professionals should be supporting schools to become the foundation of a healthy life.

Didier Jourdan & Nicola Gray are the lead authors of the viewpoint “Supporting every school to become a foundation for healthy lives” which was published in the Lancet on Friday 22 January 2021

Listen to the podcast

Read the viewpoint article

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Recording of regional workshop ‘School Health in Latin America: Intersectoral NCD Prevention and Management’

Recording of regional workshop ‘School Health in Latin America: Intersectoral NCD Prevention and Management’

On December 14 and 15, 2020, NCD Child, in partnership with the Healthy Latin America Coalition (CLAS) and the American Heart Association, hosted a two-day regional workshop entitled ‘School Health in Latin America: Intersectoral NCD Prevention and Management’ that focused on strengthening partnerships across the health and education sectors and promoting a whole-school approach in preventing and managing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region, with a special focus on adopting school health strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Didier Jourdan, holder of the UNESCO Chair and head of the WHO Collaborating Center in Global Health & Education, participated as a keynote speaker on day two of the workshop which focused on strategies for educational continuity and management of NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can see his presentation on the UNESCO Chair website.

Visit NCD Child’s YouTube channel to watch the full presentations for both days, available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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School Health in Latin America: Intersectoral NCD Prevention and Management

School Health in Latin America: Intersectoral NCD Prevention and Management

On the 14th and 15th of December NCD Child, in partnership with the Healthy Latin America Coalition (CLAS) and the American Heart Association organize two days of dialogue around the theme: School Health in Latin America: Intersectoral NCD Prevention and ManagementThe webinar will be held in English.

The online meeting will focus on strengthening partnerships in the health and education sectors and promoting a school-wide approach to preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the region. There will also be a particular focus on the adoption of school health strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the 14th of December from 11:00 AM – 12:40 PM EST, Dr. Sonja Caffe -Regional Adolescent Health Advisor, Pan American Health Organization will present: Advocating for the prevention of NCDs through a whole-school approach.

On the 15th of December from 11:00 AM – 12:40 PM EST, Pr. Didier Jourdan, Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education in France will introduce: Education and health in schools during the pandemic: what have we learned from the field about the successes and challenges?

To register 

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Video Webinar: School issues in children during COVID-19

Video Webinar: School issues in children during COVID-19

Watch the video of the Webinar on School issues in children during COVID-19 organized by the International Pediatric Association (IPA), UNICEF and WHO.

On 2 November, IPA, UNICEF and WHO organised a webinar in French on “School issues in children during COVID-19”. The invited experts spoke about the difficulties of the child in school during the COVID-19 pandemic. They highlighted the significant impact on schoolchildren in terms of learning, loss of opportunities but also the consequences on dropping out of school. This webinar wished to return to the issues in order to better guide professionals towards a successful return to school by following the recommendations.

Pr. Rachida Boukari from the University of Alger, host and moderator of this webinar, was surrounded by experts:

  • Didier Jourdan, holder of the UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education presented “Data from a study of professionals from 42 countries on the process of reopening schools”
  • Mbola Mbassi, Doctor and public health expert at national and international level spoke of the “WHO School Health Services Guidelines for COVID-19”
  • Joseph Haddad, Professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology at Saint George Beirut University Hospital, Lebanon raised “The challenges of Education and Disability in children and COVID-19”.

Pr. Didier Jourdan recalled the interest of this survey which was to collect the points of view of professionals in the field, testimonies from the field on the possible reopening of schools in different countries, and on the successes and difficulties encountered in reopening schools.

In his review of the “WHO School Health Services Guidelines for COVID-19” Dr. Symplice Mbola Mbassi mentioned that schools have been closed in over 190 countries, reaching 90% of the global student population. He added that school closures have exposed children to more anxiety, depression, violence, physical inactivity, poor diet, loss of learning, sedentary lifestyle and increased screen time but also for parents an increase in unmet childcare needs. Dr. Symplice Mbola Mbassi pointed out that schools are places of protection, of learning opportunities. They provide social protection, nutrition, physical activity but also emotional support.

Finally, Pr. Joseph Haddad talked about “The challenges of education and disability in children and COVID-19”. He emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach to the care of children with disabilities that ensures dignity, based on the rights and needs of these children. The rights of these children are the same as to others, such as the right to education, medical care, rehabilitation, social support and social integration.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJHqv-vlia0

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GEM 2020: Reopening schools safely – the challenges for health and education

GEM 2020: Reopening schools safely – the challenges for health and education

On 20 and 22 October, UNESCO with the Governments of Ghana, Norway and the United Kingdom, has convened a virtual Global Education Meeting (GEM) focused on post-COVID learning. Ministers and representatives from UN and other agencies looked at the challenges for health and education. Children have suffered many impacts on their health, diet, mental health and well-being, but also violence, sexual and reproductive health risks, because of the closure of schools due to COVID19.

The director of School-based programmes at the World Food Program, Carmen Burbano, spoke about the importance of reopening schools and the need for safe and creative ways to keep schools open. Dr. Valentina Baltag from the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization (WHO), added that “There is no zero risk strategy for the reopening of schools, but a lot can be done to make sure they are a safe place to learn”.

Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director at the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, WHO, proposed reducing the size of classes,  improving hygiene, and alternating days at school as measures to maintain the health and the well-being of the pupils.

The UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education was represented by Dr. Nicola Gray. She expressed the fact that this year is difficult for students all over the world. She underlined: “It’s fair to say that this year has been a year of lost milestones for children; proms, graduations, birthday parties, she said. These joyful events in the lives of children and young people have been disrupted.”

Read the article

See also

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