Long-term strategy to lower community transmission key to reopening schools, WHO says

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(CNN) - The World Health Organization is warning countries against using school reopenings as “political footballs that get kicked around the place.”

During a Monday briefing, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said “it's not fair on our children.”

“There are many countries around the world in which schools are reopening successfully, and safely, because countries have dealt with the real problem: community transmission,” Ryan said.

“The problem we have in some countries right now is that it's very difficult to determine the safety of any environment because there's just so much transmission going on, that all potential environments in which people mix are essentially problematic,” he added.

Ryan said, “the fact remains that when community transmission exists and when community transmission is intense, children will be exposed to that virus, and children will be part of the transmission cycle.”

The best way to reopen schools, Ryan said, is by lowering community transmission using a “comprehensive long-term strategy” that looks at “everything at one time.”

“We can't move from – let’s deal with the schools and then we will deal with that for a week or two, and then let's deal with the workplace, and then let's deal with infection and hospitals or long-term care facilities. This is playing whack a mole,” he said. "We got to chew gum and walk at the same time.”

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Long-term strategy to lower community transmission key to reopening schools, WHO says"