Last night I watched the BBC TV 6 0’clock news with an item about a primary school in the north of England. The presenter, Branwen Jeffreys, showed us a school and its preparations to deal with the return of pupils after the long break caused by the corona virus pandemic, and the steps the head had taken “to ensure that the children were safe”. It was clear that neither the head teacher nor the presenter knew that the corona virus was harmless to children, nor that children outside a classroom will mingle and be in close physical contact with each other.
Desks were 2 metres apart resulting in most of the classroom being empty, toys and other equipment that children might handle had been removed. Bookcases had been taped across with yellow and black warning tape to prevent the use of books.
To my mind this was shocking: dangerous to the mental well-being of children, totally unnecessary and a gross waste of resources. I don’t believe education can function in such a set-up. I was shocked that a teacher and, apparently the BBC’s Education Correspondent, should think this was an acceptable approach to the current corona-virus outbreak.
How are we educating our children? To fear coming near to another human being in case they catch a deadly disease? To believe that the very air is potentially lethal? That toys, educational equipment, and books cannot be shared because of the terrible danger of catching a deadly infection? To be obsessive about hand washing? To grow up anxious and deeply fearful of the world? This is not healthy or appropriate education.
Picture Philadelphia Inquirer
David Roberts 1st June 2020
Norway’s Prime Minister has second thoughts about closing Norway’s Schools.
On Wednesday night, Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg went on Norwegian television to make a startling admission: she had panicked. Some, even most, of the tough measures imposed in Norway’s lockdown now looked like steps too far. “Was it necessary to close schools?” she mused. “Perhaps not.” – From Daily Telegraph, 2 June 2020.
Was it a mistake for the UK?
2 June 2020
Corona Virus, “The impact on children is minuscule in terms of their health.” – Dr Gavin Morgan.
Dr Gavin Morgan, an expert in educational psychology at University College London, said the impact of spending a prolonged period out of education was “100 per cent” worse than Covid-19.
“We know how important play is for children’s development,” he told the Sunday Telegraph, 8 June.. “If they can’t play with their friends, their mental health is going to suffer.
He also said that parents’s anxiety about sending their children back to school was “misplaced”.
“We know children have a less challenging disease if they do pick it up,” added Dr Morgan, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which feeds in to Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies).
DR 18 June 2020
“Children are at very little risk of infection” – Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Professor Russell Viner of the UCL Institute of Child Health and President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health told MailOnline: ‘What we know about the novel coronaviruses, including COVID-19, is children are at very little risk of infection.
‘Children probably catch it as much as adults but most children either have no symptoms or incredibly mild symptoms.
‘If children do catch catch the virus, most do not get any symptoms.
‘Most of those that do develop symptoms only experience mild effects, such as a slight fever, some aches and pains and a bit of a cough.
Daily Mail online 18 March 2020
So if children are at only the slightest of risks surely they don’t need to keep apart. And actually, I would think that it would be socially and psychologically harmful to bring children up to fear close contact with others or believe that the air they breathe is contaminated, that shared objects like books may be a health hazard. Such behaviour is so unnatural that only a truly great danger should lead us to treat children in this way. And covid-19 is of minimal danger to children.
College and University Students
These are of very little risk too so that the attempt to keep students apart is also unnecessary as well as being unworkable, inhuman, and socially and psychologically undesirable.
Statistics giving the evidence behind this claim can be found elsewhere in this blogsite.
David Roberts, 17 June 2020