Delta variant - a concern for new academic year

Wednesday, 2021-08-25 09:09:47
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Schoolchildren, wearing protective face masks, are seen in a classroom at Lepeltier primary school in La Trinite, near Nice, in France, April 26, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – The first day of the new school year in many countries is approaching, in the context of growing anxiety as another COVID-19 epidemic wave caused by the Delta variant is at risk of spiraling out of control. Many countries have prepared "scenarios" to ensure student safety and uninterrupted learning.

In Israel, most schools have entered their new school year, although students under the age of 12 have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and are thus among the most vulnerable. The Israeli Government has launched a mass testing campaign for all children aged from 3 to 12 years old across the country. Israel has recently announced it will vaccinate pupils at school, a necessary measure to avoid seeing schools closed.

In Europe, the German government is also implementing a wide range of measures to protect children under 12 years of age in schools and kindergartens, who are not currently vaccinated against COVID-19. The government announced it will provide states with EUR200 million to equip classrooms with portable air purifiers in schools and kindergartens to maintain learning at schools.

California, the most populous state in the US and also where the number of COVID-19 cases is growing at its fastest rate since the outbreak of the pandemic, has required all teachers be vaccinated against COVID-19 as students are returning to school. This is the first US state to impose this measure in the context of the Delta variant spreading rapidly in the community. US$124 million has been invested in California's public education system to implement initiatives, including supporting the physical and mental health of students.

In Canada, the number of COVID-19 infections among children and adolescents accounts for nearly 20% of the total number of cases nationwide and is expected to increase as millions of unvaccinated children return to school. Education experts in Canada are weighing up new measures, as risk-reduction strategies that once worked in schools may no longer be effective against new variants.

The increased risk of new infections among children is placing the health care system on alert. The biggest concern of parents today is how to keep their children safe from the epidemic. Rigorous anti-epidemic plans at schools have been prepared by many countries in the face of the unpredictable risks of the Delta variant, a big challenge for the new academic year.