Healthy Learners’ pandemic response
Deep ties with the Zambian government, established community networks, and a nimble staff’s capacity for innovation enable a strong response to the crisis.
LAST UPDATED OCTOBER 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to demonstrate the importance of our school health model in both preventing the spread of infectious disease and keeping schools open so children can continue to learn.
Leading the reopening of schools in Zambia
Following the Presidential announcement in May 2020 that schools would begin to reopen on the 1st of June, the Ministry of Education (MOE) tasked Healthy Learners as lead technical advisor to facilitate the development of national guidelines for COVID-19 prevention and control measures required for the reopening and ongoing management of schools. The resulting document has been adopted by the government and delivered to all of Zambia’s schools.
Leveraging our existing model, we trained our school health workers and all school administrators on COVID-19 guidelines, adapted our operating procedures, and provided schools with additional hand-washing stations, sanitation supplies, and infrared thermometers.
Accelerating the expansion of our model
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in demand for our model. The opening of schools in June clearly brought to light the disparity between schools implementing our model and those that are not. Schools outside of our program have struggled without the infrastructure, training, and leadership to meet basic requirements on physical distancing, disease management, and sanitation. Not surprisingly, the government as well as individual schools are pressuring us to escalate our expansion plans.
Eager to meet this demand, we have expanded our model to all public primary schools in Lusaka, more than doubling the number of schools in our program to serve over 250,000 students. This expansion comes at the request of the Ministry of Education, which sees Lusaka as a pilot district and is committed to working with us to expand the program nationally. Our ultimate goal is for Zambia to serve as a model for how countries throughout the region can improve the health of school children.