Opening primary schools to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 students sends them to the front lines of a pandemic and it is irresponsible.
We do not yet know enough about Covid-19 to guarantee our children will be safe returning to schools. Professor Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, acknowledged that scientists still don’t know if asymptomatic children can transmit the virus, or at what level.
We don’t know if children who may quietly carry the virus can spread it, and yet the current Government deems it okay to potentially reopen schools on 1 June? And for groups of children who have not yet mastered basic cough etiquette, no less.
When my son was in Reception and Year 1, he brought home every cold circulating in the school. One has to beg and plead with children at that age to wash their hands. One has to dodge the spray when the child’s lack of impulse control takes over, and they sneeze directly into your face. These are the children Boris Johnson wants to unleash through the school gates whilst an airborne deadly virus grips the globe.
Even with reduced numbers of pupils attending school, the threat to teachers and staff is unprecedented. The Government has failed to meet its daily testing quota. Are teachers being tested? The Government has failed to provide PPE for the nurses and doctors dealing with coronavirus in close quarters. Will teachers or students be provided with masks?
What happens when school staff, exposed to the virus by children with undeveloped hygiene practices, contract the virus? What happens to the vulnerable family members, siblings and immunocompromised parents or carers of primary school children who bring the virus back home with them?
Reopening primary schools on 1 June is a daft and short-sighted decision. Sending children back to an environment where common colds and contagions like head lice rip through school populations like wildfire is ill-thought-out and serves no purpose.
The pandemic and resultant quarantine are unprecedented and call for novel responses. The strain of everyone being home daily and juggling home education with work is tough and tiring. I feel as though I am spending my days resitting Year 3 maths whilst preparing a buffet of snacks. I miss my independence and my mums’ nights. I miss going on dates with my partner. But I personally prefer to deal with the struggles of life in lockdown, than the possibility that my children may return to school too early and contract and spread a deadly virus.
Children will not be immune without vaccines. Schools are not sterile environments. Rushing to get back to business-as-usual could result in a second wave or increase in infections, as Germany has experienced. Children should be kept home until thorough research is undertaken that sheds light on the safest ways to return to the classroom.
Originally published at http://www.mums-dads.co.uk on May 11, 2020.