Ana Bento, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostats at the IU School of Health-Bloomington, is helping to steer national strategies and policies on school’s decisions to close and reopen due to COVID-19 as a member of new advisory group through the World Health Organization.
Bento is one of 16 experts from throughout the world appointed to WHO's Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Educational Institutions and COVID-19. She is one of two experts from the United States.
Hosted by WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, the global group of experts will provide strategic and technical advice to WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF on matters relating to the role of educational institutions in COVID-19 transmission and containment. Additionally, the group will advise those organizations on closing, reopening and potential reclosure of educational institutions related to the coronavirus. They will consider the latest available evidence and early experiences of school closings and reopenings and the related issues for which policy guidance and recommendations should be developed or updated.
“I am honored to be a part of this group whose work will help leaders and school administrators develop and incorporate the most effective policies related to school closures and reopenings during COVID-19,” Bento said. “This pandemic has greatly impacted families and children throughout the world. Through this work, I hope we can help provide some guidance for educational institutions that will help young people receive an education, in a safe environment.”
As part of the advisory group, Bento will advise WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF on the epidemiology of the school transmission; model scenarios to guide when school closure is useful or not in relation to community transmission; research priorities related to the role of the educational institutions on COVID-19 transmission and containment; interpret research findings from emerging evidence on educational institutions and COVID-19 to inform policy decisions; and more.