We need to rebuild the confidence of parents and teachers – shattered by the UK government and its scientists keeping silent about the LACK of dangers to children at schools.

4 July 2020 By Paul Martin

By Paul Martin. Opinion Piece.

Parents have been understandably reluctant to send their children to school, for fear the environment there exposes them to a greater risk of catching Coronavirus.  But that’s actually damaging their children. And it is not necessary.  

However, don’t blame the parents. They have been misled.

Blame the scientists who advise the government.  And of course the Government, and the Opposition.

This is what they’re hiding: It’s safe for primary school children to go to school and for the children to mix just as they have before the virus.  Only the teachers and staff need to keep social distancing – but only from each other, not from the children.   I would be perfectly happy for my 5-year-old granddaughter Natasha to mix, cuddle, play and charge around with any and all of the children at her school.  Why can’t she?

Experts have known for at least a month that, as Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, one of the UK’s top statisticians, has stated, the risk coronavirus poses to the young is “staggeringly low”.   The evidence has been there.  Global studies have revealed that there are no known cases of children having passed Covid-19 on to adults.

Schools across Europe have successfully reopened with no second spike in cases of coronavirus.

Also, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Britain’s premier children’s hospital, has reported that Covid has not caused death there, though they have had to deal with a handful of children who had a nasty syndrome called SIMS.  Only two such children have died in the whole of the UK, and the rest now recovering in less than five days, thanks to a cocktail of highly effective drugs, according to the hospital’s paediatric infectious diseases consultant Dr Karyn Moshal.

There are over eleven million children in the UK, and the vast majority of those who go to nursery, primary or (though to a lesser extent) secondary school are safe – and should be allowed to mix freely with one another.   There is no need for the latest restrictions, described as relaxations, to be imposed by the Education Department when children return to school, in England in September.  The Scottish schools plan to reopen without any social distancing in August, by the way.

It’s a form of child cruelty for very small children to be able to return to their often much-missed schools and then made to leave again – for a long ‘holiday’ that only compounds educational problems, lack of learning normal child-to-child social skills, returning to disruption of normal-life routines, and even in some cases to the increased stresses and even potential abuse at their homes. Over a hundred paediatricians in England signed an open letter to the government pointing out the damage lack of schooling causes to children.

And of course by keeping children out of school the economy and jobs are set back, as childminding is not always available or affordable if people need to go out to work.

Why on earth should children next September still be made to mix only in bubbles (even if these have been expanded to up to thirty)?  Even more irrational is the new rule that all the children should go home and be isolated if two children test positive for Covid-19.   And let’s not even discuss the ludicrous idea that children singing must be banned.

The two medical scientists who’re seeking a vaccine at Oxford University, including  its leader  Professor Sir John Bell,  have told a Commons committee that children have much more protection against the Covid virus than adults do, probably because they have more colds than adults and have built up viral or T-cell protection.  

There have been other worldwide studies showing that, in households where more than half the adult inhabitants are infected, less than one in three children above 5 years old get any form of Covid. “That indicates the infection passes as a rule from adults to children, not the other way around,” Dr Moshal has been quoted as saying.

Of course it makes sense to be more careful with children who are to return home to people who are compromised or shielding.   But this should be the exception, not the rule.

So why then are the government imposing any form of social distancing between children and children in our schools?  I think it is partly because they have had such bad advice from their out-of-their-depth or over-panicky scientists.

Even under the unnecessary social distancing rules all the schools’ normal intake of children could have been catered for.  Schools could have been offered the use of libraries, large warehouses that no longer were being used for non-essential products, and even, during our warm no-rain weather, pleasant playing-fields that most UK schools and local sports clubs do have.

So what of now?  

Teachers and staff will still need to social distance while at school, and parents picking up their youngsters will have to come to school gates in a staggered ‘release’ for the younger children.  But that’s all.

My two-year-old granddaughter Alana has just started nursery.  The situation in nurseries is even more puzzling.  Apart from little children washing hands singing Happy Birthday, they need to see other children not as potential sources of danger (which they are not), but as friends who need to be physically and socially close to one another.  That’s a key reason to go to nursery school.

And that also applies to all primary school kids.

So it’s very simple: stop this dangerous and damaging schools debacle.  Now.