UK Today

Getting children back to school is a ‘moral duty’, says PM

Boris Johnson , writing in the Mail on Sunday, said it is the “national priority” and a ”moral duty” to get all pupils back into classrooms in September after months without in-person education.

Schools across the UK had been closed since March 20 with exceptions for children of key workers and vulnerable children. On June 1 the reception began for Year 1 and Year 6.

The plan is set to return most children throughout the country to school.

On Friday Department for Education updated the guidance for reopening of schools. Separate plans were published for Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

In his article, Mr Johnson said: “This pandemic isn’t over, and the last thing any of us can afford to do is become complacent.

“But now that we know enough to reopen schools to all pupils safely, we have a moral duty to do so.”

The PM emphasized “spiralling economic costs” of parents and carers being unable to work.

Mr Johnson added: “Keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible.”

Boris Johnson on a visit to a Kent school last month.

The easing of the lockdown was paused last moth due to the rise in Coronavirus cases.

Bowling alleys, casinos and beauty salons were among the businesses that were prevented from reopening at the end of last month, for at least a fortnight.

The prime minister is understood to sacrifice the work of pubs, restaurants, and shops in sake of reopening of schools

Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, told that schools must be first to reopen and last to close during any reintroduction of restrictions.

Children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield (Russell Sach/Children’s Commissioner for England)

However, far not all the officials were pleased to hear of the PM’s plan.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said this week that the government could not “decree” that classroom education would be prioritised, as decisions would be made by local health chiefs.

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health published a forecast last week, warning that opening schools across the UK in September could lead to a tsunami of new cases, leading to 250,000 more deaths.

However, the second study published the same day found infected children in Australian schools had passed the virus on to hardly anyone. Experts said there are no confirmed cases anywhere in the world of school pupils passing on Covid-19 to their teachers.

At the same time concerns over ‘summer slide’ are rising .

Dr Lee Elliot Major, the university’s professor of social mobility, said: ”What is already clear is that the drastic losses in learning will have profound impacts on the lives of many children and young people.”

”Every extra week away from face-to-face teaching adds to the cumulative damage over a lifetime. We need to assess the short-term risks of containing the virus against the longer-term, but in many ways more profound, risks of damaging the prospects for a whole generation,” he added.

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