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Kids MUST go back to school… we’ve proved its safe despite unions’ 200 demands

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BORIS Johnson has declared we have a “moral duty” to get kids back in the classroom next month.

Yet teachers’ unions are trying to thwart plans to reopen schools in September.

⚠ Read our UK schools reopening live blog for the latest news & updates

 

Paul Edwards – The Sun

Class at St Paul’s Church of England Primary School in Swanley, Kent[/caption]

The National Education Union (NEU) has sent out a 200-point checklist of Covid-19 secure measures to its 500,000 members.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister hit the road to inspect the measures schools have put in place.

He said: “It’s not right that kids should spend more time out of school. It’s much better for their health and mental wellbeing, and obviously their educational prospects, if everybody comes back full-time in September. It’s our moral duty as a country to make sure that happens.”

Thanks to social distancing and hygiene measures, St Paul’s Church of England Primary School in Swanley, Kent, fully reopened in June.

Here, its head teacher blasts the unions for failing children with their “can’t do” attitude. 


AS a country, we are trying to get back to some sort of normality — and schools have a big part to play in that.

Getting children back into the classroom is vital so parents can get back to work.

Yet this is proving anything but child’s play.

Unions have hit schools with a checklist of 200 demands before opening next month. This exhaustive list includes assurances that schools will take specific measures to stop children drinking hand sanitiser, extra support for the wellbeing of staff suffering from workload worries, anxiety or the effects of trauma and insisting classes be held “one week on, one week off”.

Union members have been urged to present this checklist to headteachers and to expect its completion.

It is not helpful. Unions should be working with schools to ensure there is a safe return, not creating division — which is what this will do. If we keep looking at checklists of things that need to be ticked off, we will never get schools reopened.

It will never be perfect for everyone. Nothing is. There are always differing opinions.

When asked if the checklist raised the bar too high, NEU president Amanda Martin responded: “This is people’s safety. What cost is safety?”

Of course safety is important. But unions should be pulling together and supporting schools, rather than making it very difficult for them to come back.

GET BASICS DONE

Before my school reopened, I was stunned to hear some unions were encouraging teachers not to engage in conversation with head-teachers. How is that helpful to anyone?

We have a responsibility to children to be back. If we don’t come back now, when?

Paul Edwards – The Sun

Year 5 students watch their hands before attending class in a marquee[/caption]

We can’t keep putting it off. We must come back at some point and September is as good a time as any.

It is about common sense and making sure the school community is as safe as it can be. Get the basics done from the off and tweak it as we go. That is how it should work.

And I know — because I made it work.

When we reopened our school in June we followed the guidance the Government set out to the letter.

We didn’t have any cases of staff or students falling ill with the virus.

We installed a marquee in our playing field to create extra space, as well as supplying portaloos and mobile handwashing facilities to keep pupils and staff safe.

Classes were kept apart with individual entrances and exits. Yes, we are a smaller school with fewer children.

But I have fewer staff and less space to play with.

As a community, the school came together, did the right thing and got the children back. That’s what it is about: Working with your community — the pupils, parents and staff.

Inevitably, there was going to be some sort of drop in pupils’ learning. But children are really resilient. We saw that when they came back.

They were straight back into six-hour days, with a full timetable of learning.

They dealt with it really well. Actually, they loved coming back to the stability and routine of what they knew.

As much as you try to put in a timetable at home, you don’t follow it because the environment is very different.

I have two children myself and know how hard it was during that time . . . and I’m a teacher.

My wife and I were both working full-time from home. To get my six-year-old to do more than an hour’s work was incredibly difficult.

You don’t get the same experience sitting in front of a screen watching a teacher online as you do being in a classroom interacting with other people.

I strongly feel schools have a responsibility to give parents the opportunity to get back into some sort of normality with work.

Because we brought all our children back, parents were able to work better from home and do the things they needed to do.

We had a number of parents who were made redundant during lockdown.

With not having the children at home, they had the chance to look for other work. Meanwhile, their kids were safe.

Just this week, Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the “very low” risk to children from Covid-19 meant the reopening of schools is safe.

Research carried out in 100 institutions across the UK will confirm “there is very little evidence” of coronavirus transmission where pupils have returned.

HAPPY TO BE BACK

I hope this will help reassure parents, as the negative impact of keeping children away from classrooms runs deeper than their education.

The effect on the mental health of our nation’s youngsters could be catastrophic. The social impact of schools is vital.

We were back for a month before the summer holidays and that was one of the overriding factors parents talked about.

 Lots of children were sad, very quiet and not their normal selves during lockdown.

But coming back to school really changed them. That was evident from day one.

Parents had been concerned about their children’s mental health and could see how happy they were to be back at school, where they were able to interact with their friends and peers and reignite those friendships.

It was wonderful to hear children laughing and enjoy- ing each other’s company.


That is something you can’t get in lockdown — the social aspect of school life.

Schools are at the heart of most communities.

And if schools can get back safely, the rest of the community will hopefully follow back into some normality.

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