Is it right for schools to return during Covid peak? | Annie Lewis

The government has stated that schools will be returning next month, with primary schools and secondary school exam years to go back on January 4 and other secondary pupils to return on January 11.

Tuesday, 29th December 2020, 5:03 pm
Year eight pupils wearing face masks as a precaution against the transmission of the novel coronavirus sanitise their hands in a corridor at Moor End Academy in Huddersfield, northern England on September 11, 2020. - Millions of children across England have returned to school after the Covid-19 lockdown with many schools introducing measures to enable as safe an environment as possible. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

As ever, the plan may change but the decision is causing controversy.

On the one hand, taking young people out of school and teaching online could be hugely damaging to not only their intellectual development, but also their mental health. Being cooped up in a bedroom is not an ideal environment to learn and study.

Moreover, for those with fragile relationships with their parents, the situation is delicate.

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However, if the worsening pandemic means families cannot see each other, how does it make sense to allow hundreds of children and teachers to mix at a school? Put simply, it doesn’t.

But a disturbed education could lead to stunted emotional development, with a whole generation of children being denied challenges and settings which teach them vital life experience.

Dr Stefan Flasche, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggested secondary school-age children are a source of community transmission, with recent estimates from the Office for National Statistics highlighting the prevalence of infection with Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – is highest among that age group.

If this new Covid variant is more transmissible than before, how do we expect to get the infections down if large numbers of students gather in a classroom or assembly hall?

We have surpassed the April peak of Covid cases and at that point, schools were closed.

Mass testing in schools is fine in theory, but the logistics of it have clearly not been thought out. Where would teachers or pupils find the resources, time and manpower to conduct it?

The government has to find the lesser of two evils with this dilemma. The clock is ticking, with less than a week to go before a scheduled return to school. But I fear this is a lose-lose situation for Whitehall.

Is Brexit finally coming to an end? I really, really hope so

The thing we have all spoken about at enormous lengths since 2016 may finally be ending.

The UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal will be signed in Brussels on December 30 by EU bosses – before being flown in an RAF plane to London for our prime minister to mark his signature.

It is not the result which 48 per cent of the UK wanted, but it’s one which they will have to live with. Regardless of politics, I am glad there is now a resolution and that businesses will hopefully get the certainty they deserve.

It has been a long time coming with a number of political casualties along the way, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I have found solace and peace in reading and books

I never see the point in new year’s resolutions. They are most likely set to fail before January even comes to a close.

But one I believe I can stick to in 2021 is reading.

I have always loved books but this year they have been by my side every step of the way.

I do not only love them because they offer escapism from a screen, which I sadly never seem to get away from whether it’s a phone or computer, but because they take me to another world.

It gives my mind something else to focus on, rather than the grim picture of the world I read about every day because of my work.

So for 2021, I plan to read more. I read 20 in books in 2020. How about 21 for 2021?