I wrote a post last week about my concerns about my children returning to school this year 2020. Now, I will begin this post by saying I have done some research but I’m no expert. I also have a bias with being vulnerable and having vulnerable family members. I’m still in the belief that if you are healthy, from a healthy family and your child is happy to return to school then it will be the best place for them. What I do object to is not being given a choice. The government is making a big push to get kids back into school and it’s causing so much distress to those who feel unsure.
Why Go Back To School?
The law states that every child should be educated. It doesn’t state how. You do not have to send your child to school at all, you have every right to educate them at home and this is becoming increasingly easier. There are even groups you can meet up with to take care of the social side of things. Of course, the COVID-19 worries make these difficult at the moment, but if you are happy with your child not going to school then it’s really not a problem. You don’t even have to follow the National Curriculum, so long as you are providing a learning environment suitable for your child then it shouldn’t be a problem.
I have home educated a few times now and sometimes you just know that your child thrives better in a school environment. Boo, for instance, loves school. She enjoys being around her friends and learning, and she has formed good bonds with teachers. Star, has managed to get to year 11 despite losing a lot of time due to her disabilities and illness. She is not a huge fan of school, but she has done really well and loves learning. The Little Man enjoys school, but gets agitated and misbehaves sometimes. He has recently been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum which makes things difficult for him. But his new school is doing really well with him. He is about to enter year 6, the last year of primary school.
So, I have three children who are all completely different in my own home, just imagine how different other children are. School is an institution based on teaching and discipline, but it doesn’t work for everyone. For those it does work for, it works well.
What About COVID-19?
Back to school 2020 is plagued with the threat of the COVID-19 virus. It’s a back to school like no other I’ve experienced. We are constantly being told that school is the safest place for children and that it’s unlikely they will catch the virus. We are threatened with fines if we don’t send our children back to school. It’s like nothing has been learned from this pandemic.
Firstly, the schools were considered too dangerous for large numbers of pupils between March and July. The virus was at it’s peak and it was shown that most victims of the virus were older and more vulnerable people. Not children, they were okay. Or maybe, they were protected because they were not in school?
Secondly, learning from home came easily to some and they discovered that children could thrive in the home environment learning at their own speed. Some kids even did better without the pressure of attending school. We have been told that it’s vital for our children’s mental health to get them back into school. But, many parents have said their children’s mental health has improved while not at school. It’s not one size fits all.
While I’m on this subject, I will say that I am aware that some children have not had the full attention of their parents or other carers during this time. Some have been neglected and some parents have struggled to teach their children. It’s not easy and I’ll be the first to admit this. All children are different.
The Science Bit
I’ve done some research.
Professor Adilia Warris, paediatric infectious diseases specialist at University of Exeter said the results of the first PHE study underscore that going back to school carries a “very low risk” for children. “While an increase in SARS-CoV2 infections might be seen, the current data provides strong arguments that those infections will in the vast majority of cases not lead to severe disease in pre-school and school-aged children.”Public Health England
This is great news. Children are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19. It’s not impossible, there have been some serious cases. but it is really rare. Of course, this applies to younger children, in particular, those aged 10 years and under.
Dr Sanjay Patel, a consultant in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said as the study wasn’t set up to investigate the rate of transmission between children, “we need to ensure robust infection control measures remain in place in schools – especially secondary schools – and that vigilance is maintained (through test and tracing) once they reopen.”
“children may play a role in the transmission process,” he added. So parents and teachers with underlying health conditions may need to take precautions in order to minimise their own risk over the coming months.Public Health England
We are told it’s safe for children to return, but it’s up to the schools to make it safe. That’s not always easy. It’s also a little less reassuring. If children do not catch or transmit COVID so readily, then why do we the schools need so much vigilance? The kids may be safe, but what about the teachers?
In fact most advice seems to to be contradicting.
Studies from school children in France and Korea and Singapore. have shown that primary school age children do not seem to transmit the virus to the same extent.Public Health England
Great news,these countries have had children back at school for a few seeks now so it’s actual evidence. Primary school children do not transmit the virus to the same extent.
Then on the same site you can read this statement;
Testing has been much lower in children than adults. Most were children of key workers or those reporting at hospital with acute respiratory infections. A key unanswered questions is whether asymptomatic children might be contributing to community transmission of Covid. Asymptomatic children have been tested as follow up contacts of of confirmed cases. .
So, children don’t appear to transmit the virus or catch it, but they are not tested for it either. Its a simple fact that they don’t know if asymptomatic children can transmit the virus.
When symptomatic, children shed virus in similar quantities to adults and can infect others in a similar way to adults. It is unknown how infectious asymptomatic children are.EDCE Europa
When you look at teenagers, it’s a different story altogether:
Russell Viner, Sage member and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, told The Times: “It’s increasingly clear that older children, teenagers probably, transmit as much as adults.”
If you stick to the government sites, you will find the news is all positive. They want the kids back in school.
School or No School in 2020?
I think the choice is up to the parents. Yes, even facing the fines. If you can’t pay then you can de-register your child and get help in educating them at home. If you want them to go back to school later you have a right to a school place, it just may not be the school you want.
I’ve fretted so much about sending mine back but I’ve decided on my plan which will work for me. I have my son’s school onside, but I’ve not heard from the girl’s school yet.
The Little Man’s school has been very understanding and agreed it was okay to keep him off for a while. But, I have decided to send him back. He goes to a good school and they have kept me informed every step of the way. They will do their best to make sure the kids are as safe as possible and protect their staff too.
My Little Man struggles to learn at home, even though we do our best. I think a school environment would be better for him and it would be a shame for him to miss his last year in primary school. However, he may only be going back for a couple of days initially. I am in hospital next week and the school said they will be understanding if he doesn’t attend until I am feeling better. At least he will get to see his new classmates and teacher.
The girls and their school is a completely different story. They are not due back until next week. I will update on my decision later.
What are your thoughts? Are your kids back at school yet?
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