Is it safe to send your child back to school?
This clearly is the biggest question right now for most parents and it does not have a simple and straightforward answer. First let us look at what the UK government is saying. From this week and commencing June 1, primary schools welcome back children in nursery, reception, years 1 and 6 along side priority groups and children of key workers. By this decision, the government is assuming that schools will take the right steps and put in plans in places to keep children safe. The second phase of this will involve secondary schools and the government is asking secondary schools and further education colleges to offer some face to face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students and 16 – 19 year old learners in the first year of their course who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full provision they are offering to priority groups.
It is important to point out that this guidance is also being given to nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, to begin welcoming back children of all ages from June 1.
So why is the government taking this decision which does not appear to be widely accepted among parents?
The UK government has also said it will depend on the scientific advice to influence its decision.
Here are a few of our main thoughts around whether it’s safe to send your child back to school in the UK or not:
- When it comes to learning effectively for children, there is no real substitute to face to face learning in a school environment. It provides children with an effective way to learn and be supported by their teachers.
- It is clear many children are already struggling with this long period of movement restrictions and charities are concerned about the mental well being of children. Children need social interaction with peers, teachers and other people like everyone else to thrive.
- Children returning to school clearly is part of a bigger puzzle the government needs to put together to get society working as it should. Children need to be back in school for parents and adults to be more able to get back to work.
- The government has clearly said this latest decision is hinged on the scientific advice it has. It is also following the directive with guidance to ensure there are measures in place to reduce associated risks. For example students will have to say in their respective classes allowing for only minimal movement. There will also be a range of protective measures including increased cleaning.
Lextra Learning’s thoughts on re-opening schools amidst Covid-19
So going back to the fundamental question whether it is safe or not to send your child to school. We cannot authoritatively say it is but it is also important to note that the phased approach for opening schools is the most effective and sensible way to do this without damaging students learning much more. It is obvious that the effects of this pandemic to education might be felt well into 2021 and there are already predictions that next years’ exams will potentially see the poorest possible results.
So at Lextra, while we cannot give a clear answer to this question, we are confident that the risks are extremely minimal to children and genuinely feel that this is the best possible approach to opening schools. Due to us having to close our own education centres in Leeds due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we have started more online teaching sessions whereby children can be taught by one of our qualified teachers virtually, using Zoom video software. Whilst this might not be the perfect solution for those children struggling with the lockdown, it’s still a great option for those parents that want to supplement their own teaching efforts.
It is worthwhile mentioning however that this is not a full scale decision that cannot be reversed. The government has clearly stated that though its intention is to aim at bringing back all primary school pupils back to school before the summer break, it would only be recommended if the positive steps to reduce the rate of infection is brought down to the lowest it can be. So clearly safety is still a priority and parents can monitor why and when the government makes this decision that is it clearly for the right reasons.
In childcare settings, providers can welcome back all children from the week commencing 1 June 2020. Demand for childcare is likely to be lower than usual at first, and existing space requirements and staff to child ratios for these age groups should allow for small group working. Where the physical layout of a setting does not allow small groups of children to be kept at a safe distance apart, we expect practitioners to exercise judgement in ensuring the highest standards of safety are maintained. In some cases, it may be necessary for providers to introduce a temporary cap on numbers to ensure that safety is prioritised. From 1 June 2020, childminders can look after children of all ages, in line with usual limits on the number of children they can care for.
Our ambition is to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. We will only welcome back additional year groups if the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus indicates it is appropriate to have larger numbers of children within schools. The safety of children and staff is our utmost priority.
You can read the full guidance from the UK Government on the reopening of education and childcare here.
If you or your child might be interested in learning more about our remote teaching services you can read more information here. We’re currently offering the first session for free so you can get a feel for whether it’s a good fit for your child.