Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region registering a steady increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections for the fourth consecutive week, the organization is still advising schools to remain open with "appropriate preventive and response measures in place."
"Last year's widespread school closures, disrupting the education of millions of children and adolescents, did more harm than good, especially to children's mental and social well-being. We can't repeat the same mistakes," says Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Europe's regional director, in a press release issued on Friday.
While the WHO's five other global regions reported a decline in COVID-19 case numbers, more than half of the countries in the European Region registered a marked increase in infection rates with new cases soaring by 18 percent across all age groups.
According to the WHO, the increases have already triggered an immediate response from national and local governments to protect the schools across the region that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
"A total of 45 countries and territories recommended that schools remain open for in-person learning with infection prevention and control. Seven countries opted for full or partial school closures, either at a national or sub-national level, and two countries recommend distance learning," the WHO release said.
According to WHO Europe, "interrupting children's education should be a last resort."
"Science must trump politics, and the long-term interests of children must remain a priority -- especially now that a number of countries are seeing a
To date, 76 million COVID-19 cases and 1.4 million deaths have been reported in the WHO European Region.