Why schools must remain open

Why schools must remain open

For once both main political parties agree on one thing – that schools shouldn’t be closed. And they are right.

Children have spent six months out of school already this year and further time missing classes could see irreversible harm to their education.

Those who are affected most are the less able and the disadvantaged – the very children who need the assistance most.

From the start of this term, schools and teachers have known that they are playing ‘curriculum catch-up’; attempting to make up for lost time.

To close schools again would set everyone back – it would be disastrous.

And there are other things to consider, such as the mental health of children.

Many of them struggled during the last lockdown and if they are stuck indoors again we will see more issues.

There is also the fact that some children find school a refuge from chaotic parents.

Others share a small home with parents and siblings and might not have the technology or space to do their learning properly.

Also, parents are not qualified to teach and children are far less likely to listen to their mum or dad than they are their teacher.

Schools have worked tirelessly to make their environments Covid-safe and have had half a term to make their systems work.

We have also heard that schools are not Covid Petri dishes, as is sometimes claimed.

Nature magazine recently reported that meta-analysis of prevalence studies showed that children – especially those under the age of 12–14 – ‘are less susceptible to infection than adults.’

It also noted that once they are infected, young children, including those aged 0–five years old, are less likely to pass the virus on to others.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has said: “All the data, including ONS data, is that teachers are not in an at-risk occupation, unlike those who work in social care…”

He made clear the enormous benefits of keeping schools open.

The government has to strike a balance and it has got it right by not bowing to pressure to close schools.