There has been much talk recently about the prospect of schools reopening.
While it may be true that young people are less susceptible to the coronavirus, pupils have teachers, support staff, school leaders and other adults in their schools. All of these are potentially more vulnerable.
And has it escaped politicians and media commentators’ attention that children also live with families? If the rest of the country has to continue to maintain social distancing, how on earth are teachers and pupils expected to do this in already over-sized classes and without adequate safety measures in place?
Before any return is considered, we need to see evidence, research and all of our questions answered.
For example, would there be concrete plans to have regular testing of children and staff, availability of appropriate PPE, and enhanced building cleaning?
These are things the government is already struggling with. And what will we do to support students and staff in vulnerable health categories?
We need to oppose reopening schools before these and many other questions have been answered. To do anything other would be foolhardy.
The only sensible line to take is that schools and colleges should only reopen when it is safe to do so.
As Mary Bousted, the joint secretary of the National Education Union, said, “The conditions are not yet in place to even begin to envisage when schools might reopen, and loose talk only serves to give mixed messages about social distancing.
“At present, social distancing is the only protection we have against the spread of Covid-19.”