Schools: GP details case for keeping children at home
Ken, a GP from Hackney, warned the mental health of children was at risk if schools stayed open as children could panic about giving coronavirus to their parents. He said children would be able to redeem academic losses. Confirmed cases were higher than 50,000 for the fifth day in a row when UK figures were released on Saturday with a record-high of 57,725 lab-confirmed cases and another 445 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
The doctor said on LBC: “It’s really beggars belief at how they can turn a deaf ear to the numbers of people who kind of know about the situation.
“What’s it going to do to the mental health of children in a couple of months time when they realise the reason their parents got Covid and one of them died was because they were in school and brought it home?
“There all kinds of ramifications to the messaging we’re given children at the moment.
“They will be okay, their academic losses are remediable.
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“My own feeling is the maximum harm is the loss of socialisation and there are ways around that.”
It comes as pressure is mounting on the Government to keep all school children in England learning from home when the new term starts next week amid fears over the spread of the new strain of COVID-19.
Gavin Williamson confirmed on Friday all London primary schools will remain shut to most pupils next week – rather than just those in certain boroughs as set out earlier in the week – but teaching unions say all schools should close for the next two weeks.
On Saturday evening, the Department for Education said remote learning was “a last resort” and classrooms should reopen “wherever possible” with appropriate safety measures to help mitigate the risk of transmission.
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“As we’ve said, we will move to remote education as a last resort, with involvement of public health officials, in areas where infection and pressures on the NHS are highest,” the spokesperson said.
Hundreds of new vaccination sites are due to be up and running this week as the NHS ramps up its immunisation programme with the newly approved Oxford University and AstraZeneca jab.
Some 530,000 doses of the vaccine will be available for rollout across the UK from Monday and more than a million patients have already had their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which was the first to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
But Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said children’s education cannot be “furloughed” for months while vaccinations are rolled out and time absent from the classroom should be kept to an “absolute minimum”, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the vaccine roll-out was “our great hope”, adding: “I want the Government to throw everything it can at this, harnessing the extraordinary talents of our NHS so we can be vaccinating at least two million Brits a week by the end of the month.”
But, writing in the Sunday Mirror, he criticised “a chaotic last-minute U-turn on schools”, adding: “Confusion reigns among parents, teachers and pupils over who will be back in school tomorrow and who won’t.”
General secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), Mary Bousted, said schools should stay closed for two weeks to “break the chain” of transmission and prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed.”
The union, which represents the majority of teachers, has advised its members it is not safe to return to classrooms on Monday.
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