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Frequently Asked Questions

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’ The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread? 

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing). Individuals can also be infected from and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth). The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.

Who is most at risk?

WHO, CDC and other experts are learning more about how COVID-19 affects people every day.  Older people, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, appear to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms.  As this is a new virus, we are still learning about how it affects children. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children. This is a new virus and we need to learn more about how it affects children. The virus can be fatal in rare cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical conditions.

What is the treatment for COVID-19? 

There is no currently available vaccine for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and getting early care from a healthcare provider can make the disease less dangerous. There are several clinical trials that are being conducted to evaluate potential therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19.

How can the spread of COVID-19 be slowed down or prevented?

As with other respiratory infections like the flu or the common cold, public health measures are critical to slow the spread of illnesses. Public health measures are everyday preventive actions that include:

✓ staying home when sick;

✓ covering mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissue immediately;

✓ washing hands often with soap and water; and

✓ cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.

Age-specific Health Education That Can Be Used by Teachers and Parents

Below are suggestions on how to engage students of different ages on preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. Activities should be contextualized further based on the specific needs of children (language, ability, gender, etc.). Every learning session must start with a short with COVID-19 Control and Prevention Tips to instill good health practices among students.

Pre-kids to Kid 4

  • Focus on good health behaviors, such as covering coughs and sneezes with the elbow and washing hands frequently.
  • Sing a song while washing hands to practice the recommended 20 second duration. – Children can “practice” washing their hands with hand sanitizer.
  • Develop a way to track hand washing and reward for frequent/timely hand washing.
  • Use puppets or dolls to demonstrate symptoms (sneezing, coughing, fever) and what to do if they feel sick (i.e. their head hurts, their stomach hurts, they feel hot or extra tired) and how to comfort someone who is sick (cultivating empathy and safe caring behaviors).
  • Have children sit further apart from one another, have them practice stretching their arms out or ‘flap their wings’, they should keep enough space to not touch their friends.
  • Prepare activities or videos for kids to show that COVID-19 is serious and everyone must avoid stigmatizing students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus.

Kid 5 to Kid 12

  • Make sure to listen to children’s concerns and answer their questions in an age-appropriate manner; don’t overwhelm them with too much information. Encourage them to express and communicate their feelings. Discuss the different reactions they may experience and explain that these are normal reactions to an abnormal situation.
  • Emphasize that children can do a lot to keep themselves and others safe.

– Introduce the concept of social distancing (standing further away from friends, avoiding large crowds, not touching people if you don’t need to, etc.).

– Focus on good health behaviors, such as covering coughs and sneezes with the elbow and washing hands.

  • Help children understand the basic concepts of disease prevention and control. Use exercises that demonstrate how germs can spread. For example, by putting colored water in a spray bottle and spraying over a piece of white paper. Observe how far the droplets travel.
  • Demonstrate why it is important to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.

– Put a small amount of glitter in students’ hands and have them wash them with just water, notice how much glitter remains, then have them wash for 20 seconds with soap and water.

Have students analyze texts to identify high risk behaviors and suggest modifying behaviors. – For example, a teacher comes to school with a cold. He sneezes and covers it with his hand. He shakes hands with a colleague. He wipes his hands after with a handkerchief then goes to class to teach. What did the teacher do that was risky? What should he have done instead?

  • Prepare activities or videos for kids to show that COVID-19 is serious and everyone must avoid stigmatizing students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus.

General English Program and other adult classes

  • Make sure to listen to students’ concerns and answer their questions.
  • Emphasize that students can do a lot to keep themselves and others safe.

– Introduce the concept of social distancing.

  • Focus on good health behaviors, such as covering coughs and sneezes with the elbow and washing hands Encourage students to prevent and address stigma.

– Discuss the different reactions they may experience and explain these are normal reactions to an abnormal situation. Encourage them to express and communicate their feelings.

  • Incorporate relevant health education into the subject or course discussion.

– If relevant to the discussion or topic, cover the study of viruses, disease transmission and the importance of vaccinations.

– If relevant to the discussion or topic, focus on the history of pandemics and their secondary effects and investigate how public policies can promote tolerance and social cohesion.

  • Have students make their own Public Service Announcements via social media, radio or even local tv broadcasting.

– Media literacy lessons can empower students to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens.

  • Prepare activities or videos for the students to show that COVID-19 is serious and everyone must avoid stigmatizing students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus.

I.Checklist and Age-Specific Health Education on the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Measures

This checklist and age-specific health education was adapted from the original document written by Lisa Bender (Education UNICEF NYHQ), with technical support from the UNICEF COVID-19 Secretariat members (Carlos Navarro Colorado, Maya Arii & Hugo Razuri) as well as UNICEF WASH, C4D and Child Protection teams. Special thanks to Maida Paisic (UNICEF EAPRO), Le Anh Lan (UNICEF Vietnam), Tserennadmid Nyamkhuu (UNICEF Mongolia), Dr, Maria D Van Kerkhove (WHO) and Gwedolen Eamer (IFRC) for their close collaboration.

A. Checklist for the School Management, Teachers and Staff

☐ 1. Promote and demonstrate regular hand washing and positive hygiene behaviors and monitor their uptake.

– Ensure adequate, clean and restrooms for girls and boys.

– Ensure soap and safe water is available at age-appropriate hand washing stations.

– Encourage frequent and thorough washing (at least 20 seconds).

– Place hand sanitizers in toilets, classrooms, halls, and near exits where possible. Ensure adequate, clean and separate toilets or latrines for girls and boys.

☐ 2. Clean and disinfect school buildings, classrooms and especially water and sanitation facilities at least once a day, particularly surfaces that are touched by many people (railings, lunch tables, sports equipment, door and window handles, toys, teaching and learning aids etc.).

☐ 3. Increase airflow and ventilation where climate allows (open windows, use air conditioning where available, etc.).

☐ 4. Post signs and play videos encouraging good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

☐ 5. Ensure trash is removed daily and disposed of safely.

B. Checklist for Parents, Guardians and Community Members

☐ 1. Monitor your child’s health and keep them home from school if they are ill.

☐ 2. Teach and model good hygiene practices for your children.

– Wash your hands with soap and safe water frequently. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water, if your hands are visibly dirty.

– Ensure that safe drinking water is available and toilets or latrines are clean and available at home.

– Ensure waste is safely collected, stored and disposed of.

– Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth, nose.

– Avoid sharing food utensils or water bottles.

– Wear masks and bring sanitizers or alcohol at all times.

☐ 3. Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings with you and their teachers. Remember that your child may have different reactions to stress; be patient and understanding.

☐ 4. Prevent stigma by using facts and reminding students to be considerate of one another.

☐ 5. Coordinate with the school to receive information and ask how you can support school safety efforts (though parent-teacher committees, etc.).

C. Checklist for Students and Children

☐ 1. In a situation like this it is normal to feel sad, worried, confused, scared or angry. Know that you are not alone and talk to someone you trust, like your parents or teacher so that you can help keep yourself and your school safe and healthy.

– Ask questions, educate yourself and get information from reliable sources.

☐ 2. Protect yourself and others.

– Wash your hands frequently, always with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

– Remember to not touch your face.

 – Do not share cups, eating utensils, food or drinks with others.

– Wear masks as needed. Remember that wearing masks for a continuous period of time may not be healthy too.

☐ 3. Be a leader in keeping yourself, your school, family and community healthy.

– Share what you learn about preventing disease with your family and friends, especially with younger children.

– Model good practices such as sneezing or coughing into your elbow and washing your hands, especially for younger family members.

☐ 4. Don’t stigmatize your peers or tease anyone about being sick.

☐ 5. Tell your parents, another family member, or a caregiver if you feel sick, and ask to stay home.