COVID19 - Schools Returning - 26/05/2020

Many people have contacted me regarding the re-opening of schools post the Coronavirus lockdown.

I think we would all agree that we should get our children back to school as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.  It is not simply a matter of missing out on education but the social and emotional interactions that schools provide.  All of these factors are particularly important for children in more vulnerable social groups.  Any decision to return to school must be based on evidence not supposition, scaremongering or political considerations.  For me there are two main aspects to consider.

The first is the data that is emerging about how children are themselves affected by the virus.  There is growing evidence from around the world that is giving us a better picture, though not yet a definitive one.  A recent report in the British Medical Journal set this out.  The link is https://adc.bmj.com/content/archdischild/early/2020/05/05/archdischild-2020-319474.full.pdf

Essentially, it appears that unlike illnesses such as flu where children are a major source of infection in the population they are, for a variety of physiological reasons, much less likely to spread coronavirus.  They are also much less likely to suffer from a severe form of the illness.  While this is generally positive, special consideration will still have to be given where there is an adult member of the family requiring special shielding.  I am particularly sensitive to this because of my own family circumstances.

The second major area to be considered will be the regional infection picture.  Where there are high levels of continuing infection it will clearly be more difficult to return to normal, including such essential elements as travel.  Here in the South West we have been lucky to have had by far the lowest level of infection in the UK which should make a return to school safer than in many other areas.  It should in the early stages, however, have to be a decision for individual parents to make about their own children in light of the considerations above.