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Is it Safe for Children to Return to School?

Scottish Children return to school next week, but is it right to ask them to return full time?

Here in Scotland, it is the last week of the holidays. Scottish children are to return to school full time, as of next week.

You can literally hear the quaking of feet all around. As a teacher, I am already aware of the kids fears of trepidation.

And I cannot blame them. They have had nearly five months off. Most kids struggle with the length of the summer holidays, but now they have been presented with a situation that has warranted five months out the classroom.

For a lot of children, they will have gotten used to it and now have to face going back.

This is NOT Right

Children are extremely vulnerable to routine, even a slight change can make a lot of kids weary. They are young, largely unadaptable and dependant upon others. They are NOT workers.

Whoever came up with the idea of the five day week for adults, let alone kids, needs locking up.

I completely understand parents need to get back to work, and are tearing the hair out at the thought of more ‘blended learning’. This is the name given to the ‘learning at home’ children have been expected to do.

The Madness Ensued 

Up and down the country, parents have been putting on their best smile and getting to grips with the curriculum. I think most have regained a newfound respect for teachers; in amongst the strife that is teaching your own children.

Some have even been ‘sacked’ by their kids, in attempt to teach them.

All joking aside, it has been a stressful five months. An abundance of people are now working from home, and having to do so whilst their eldest joins the 11am Zoom call.

It is not easy, granted. I do not have children, but I know children, and I know how ‘quickly’ they can finish, and how ‘difficult’ something can be. The little loves are not independent. 

It is okay for elder children to get on, but this is usually in the region of kids (boys) over 16, and girls (maybe 12?). And then there is the fear that they might not be doing anything, even though they said they are.

It does not make ‘working from home’ possible, when you are having to focus on another’s. I worry for parents all across the country, who have still been expected to deliver.

The Show Must Go On

Nicola Sturgeon is adamant the show must go on.

Yet, I am concerned for kids. Five months of chaos and then back in the driver’s seat is a piece of nonsense. I get that parents are worried for their jobs; some may be at risk of having to give them up. But the kids come first. 

If you think about it…it is only recently the government have expected people to return to work on a part time basis. Furlough will be paid until the end of October. The government’s contributions will not remain at the 80% paid so far. However, it is largely intact for the moment. The workforce is not expected to go back full time until November.

And yet kids have to be back in school next week for the foreseeable future, don’t skip a day.

Crazy. I hope most teachers go easy on them. Art, drama, and P.E aplenty! They will be delighted with this. It is just not fair to ask them to ‘plug back in’. They are neither socially or mentally prepared for it, never mind ‘able’ for it.

There has been a lot of backlash from parents towards the government, and astonished as I was- Holyrood responded. It was announced, despite discussions to the contrary, that children would return to school full time come August.

Findings Find Children Do Not Spread The Virus As First Thought

It is believed that children, although not immune to coronavirus-do not easily pass on the virus.

This has been reported a lot recently. It was even being discussed on ITV’s This Morning, on the 8th August, by one of their resident medical practitioners. 

On the Other Hand, They Do

On the other hand, there have been findings that suggest quite the opposite, on a large scale. A Korean study of 65,000 children, found those aged 10-19 were just as likely to spread coronavirus to adults as adults are. This is a significant finding, of a significant size. I have read no other reports that are such a size.

The Korean report also found those under 10 were 72% less likely to spread the disease than adults. The problem is perhaps in how ‘children’ as a demographic are being grouped. Young children appear to be safe from infecting others, whilst their siblings and older peers are far more questionable.

This is a significant study that only reiterates the need for caution. Rachel Graham, an epidemiologist in America, speaks to National Geographic and highlights the need for ‘contact tracing’. She stipulates that ‘contact tracing’ would establish how many people had been affected by a Covid 19 positive child. 

It may be far more beneficial for the government to make this a priority before getting children back to school. This and the mental health of children, who may face far more adverse affects on a grander scale; coming to terms with the return to the classroom. Children cannot be expected to go from 0 to 100.

Yes, it is imperative that children do return to school, most especially for the young, but this would have been far more wise, to have taken a cautionary and phased approach.