Teaching unions have weaponised coronavirus, but the Government is right to press ahead with reopening schools, as long as the scientific evidence supports the move, argues Jonathan Gullis MP

So many things have changed in such a short space of time. The little things we took for granted were taken away at the flick of a switch. Going to the office, working out at the gym, eating in a restaurant, having a drink at a bar and visiting friends or family. We have learned to adapt to this change. Homeworking, jogging on the street and online work outs, takeaways and virtual pints over Zoom have become the new norm.

For many adults, the extremity of these changes is difficult to accept. Many people feel isolated, anxious and unsure about the future. Think then about how the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown has impacted children across the world.

Stability and routine disappeared for many children when the schools closed. Worryingly, this will have impacted poorer and vulnerable children more than anyone else. What sort of long term impact will being unable to learn with their peers, socialise and play at break time, and participate sporting activities have on children?

The teaching unions have weaponised coronavirus to make the huge challenge of getting children back to school even more difficult. The Government is right to press ahead with this, as long as the scientific evidence supports the move.

Studies have found that children are 56 per cent less likely to be infected by coronavirus than an adult following contact with an infected individual. Equally important, the health risk to teachers must be considered. The Sage scientific papers have found that teachers are at no more risk than the key workers who make up a third of all workers, encompassing nearly 11 million people, and who have continued to keep our country running.

Write for us.

We're always on the lookout for talented writers and welcome submissions. Please send your opinion piece or pitch to: editor@commentcentral.co.uk

When the schools return they will operate very differently to before the lockdown and realistically, nobody knows how long these changes will have to remain in place. Staggered arrivals at the start and end of the day, 'bubbles' of students working in classes of up to fifteen (but often much smaller, depending on the size of the classroom), a 2 metre distance between desks, being taught by a different teacher to usual and eating lunch at their desks to name but a few.

It is therefore essential that as many 'normalities' are kept in place as possible. Maintaining school uniform standards is a crucial part of this. I was disappointed to hear that a small number of schools are thinking of temporarily suspending school uniform in favour of home clothes. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

Firstly, for health reasons. When children return home from school in their school uniforms, they will change into their home clothes and their school uniform goes in the wash, clean and ready for the next day. Therefore, the risk of transmission is lower than if they wore their home clothes at school and continue to wear them afterwards.

Secondly, school uniforms provides a sense of community and pride in the school ? this is something children have missed out on for the past few months and it is essential they get this sense of belonging back.

Thirdly, school uniforms are a social leveller that helps to prevent bullying in schools. With the economy in turmoil, many parents simply cannot even consider giving their children the latest fashions.

It is not just the children who will benefit by returning to school. There are many people without children who will be delighted to see life getting back to normal. Sitting in traffic jams because of the school run and watching stressed out parents sprint to get their dawdling children to the school gate on time is part of normal life. In a strange way, this would bring welcome relief.

7 votes

Sign-up for free to stay up to date with the latest political news, analysis and insight from the Comment Central team.

By entering your email address you are agreeing to Comment Central’s privacy policy